Service and Sacrifice

The other night, we had the pleasure of spending time with a dear friend, who spent last summer volunteering as a teacher in Kenya.  She remarked how odd it is to her that people view her as a "missionary" or that what she's done is viewed as a great sacrifice.  For her, she was merely doing what she loves...what God has called on her to do.  Her love for God is greater than the love she has for herself, so that what she does for Him does not feel like a sacrifice at all.  In short, her time in Africa is "true and proper worship."

In his letter to the Romans, Paul spends most of the text expounding on faith -- in short, we've done nothing to earn our salvation, which is wholly dependent on God's mercy.  Though there's nothing we can do to earn God's mercy (otherwise it wouldn't be called mercy but our just reward), Paul teaches how we're to respond to God's mercy, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship."  (Rom 12:1)  In light of the knowledge that our Lord and Creator loves us enough to offer us a chance at spending eternity in His holy presence, we ought to be overwhelmed and look for ways to please and worship Him.

Lest it's misunderstood, the offering of our bodies for sacrifice does not mean the end of our lives.  Rather, the living sacrifice means that our primary motivation is to please and honor God.  Christians speak of following Jesus's footsteps in all that we do, that doesn't mean that we seek ways to turn water into wine or raise the dead back to life.  No, we're to live our lives based on answers to the question we're to ask at all times, "What is God's will?"

For our friend, her heart is aligned with God's will so that His pleasure is her pleasure.  As we serve and give, we ought to do so with the same cheerful heart.  If we don't find joy in serving and giving and merely out of obligation, then we deprive ourselves of basking in His grace and receiving his commendation.

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