As Christians, the “why” of our serving can’t be any less (and needn’t be any more) than. . . Jesus—because, if it is, when the circumstances of our lives or the conditions of our service change, we will walk away—either literally or emotionally. We need to remember that the “why” behind our perseverance is something and someone that never changes.
In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul urges his brothers and sisters to give themselves as living sacrifices, in light of the mercies of God that he has so wonderfully explained for them in the first eleven chapters of his letter.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
According to Paul, our worship isn’t just a Sunday thing or a Tuesday-evening-at-small-group thing; it’s so much more than that. Believing and accepting what Jesus has done means giving our bodies and our minds—in essence, our whole lives—to God. That means giving time, money, homes, marriages, kids, possessions. . . giving ourselves even to the point of losing life itself.
We are to give our whole lives as living sacrifices.
Consider God’s Mercies
For the early Christians, the concept of sacrifice was understood in the context of the sacrificial system that God had put in place for his people. Before the death and resurrection of Jesus, animal sacrifice was the means by which God’s people could approach him, be made right with him, and petition and pray to him. The sacrificial offerings required the death of an animal which was without any blemish. The blood of that animal was poured, smeared or sprinkled onto the altar, which paid for the sins of the people and made them right before God.When we’re disgruntled and tired and feeling like giving up, what we need is to remind ourselves of Jesus’ love and find our purpose in serving him again, to keep going. Click To Tweet
This sacrificial obedience was pleasing to him (see Leviticus 1 – 7). But when Paul says, “By the mercies of God. . . present your bodies as a living sacrifice”, he’s not talking about the sacrificing of animals or a literal sacrificing of self in order to be right with God. He is saying, Consider the mercies of God, who gave his Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place as the ultimate sacrifice, taking the punishment that we deserve, atoning for our sin, conquering the grave, making us alive in him and promising us a future glory with him. Considering all that, present your bodies as living sacrifices as an act of worship. He’s saying that to live for Jesus—to give everything you have to him and to serve him with all that you are—is the only rational response to his mercy and grace.
To put it another way, we are called to serve wholeheartedly, sacrificially, daily. It is a high and hard calling. The only thing that will see us get on with that kind of serving is an equally glorious reason. And that is what we have. You will serve like that to the extent that you consider Jesus and are awed by his love for you and service to you. Why do we serve as living sacrifices? Because we know Jesus.
Holding On To Our “Why”
The reason why we serve God and his church never changes. But we’re quick to forget that when circumstances become uncomfortable, discouraging or overwhelming. It’s easy to allow uncomfortable change or a lack of affirmation to be the reasons why we give up. These moments reveal the real “why” that we’re holding onto in our service. There are times where we may be legitimately exhausted and need to scale back or take a break to find our comfort and energy in him through rest. There are times when it’s legitimate to ask others in our church to help encourage us as we serve. But often, when we’re disgruntled and tired and feeling like giving up, what we need is to remind ourselves of Jesus’ love and find our purpose in serving him again, to keep going.To live for Jesus—to give everything you have to him and to serve him with all that you are—is the only rational response to his mercy and grace. Click To Tweet
So, when you are the only person picking up the bulletins from the floor after the Sunday service or stacking chairs when everyone else has left; when you’re driving home after preaching your heart out and no one has thanked you; when the young people start to say they’re bored with your youth meeting; when you’ve spent hours making a meal for people in church and no one turns up; or when you’re just tired of serving and giving and you start to ask the question: why am I doing this?— remember Romans 12:1. The why behind your service is God’s mercy. The “why” behind your service is Jesus, who, in love for you, gave up everything for you.