We Are an Offering

We Are an Offering

We Are an Offering

The apostle Paul urges us in Romans 12:1, in view of God’s mercy to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is our spiritual act of worship. In the Bible, the theme of offering is a rich one. It starts in Genesis and runs through Revelation. Offerings are a part of most religions, as we humans have tried to appease, or win the approval of a variety of deities. However, we would be mistaken if we offered our bodies as sacrifices to God to appease Him. Romans is full of arguments against such a works and law mentality. Christ’s sacrifice has appeased, has satisfied, has made atonement for our sin—something we could never do.

No, Romans 12:1 clearly states that our offering is an act of worship, not appeasement. Scofield had an interesting comment regarding Abel’s sacrifice: “Abel’s righteousness was manifested by his sacrifice. His righteousness was not a result of his sacrifice but of his faith.” It is not the act of presenting oneself to God that is the worship, but the faith behind the act, based on our knowledge that we are recipients of Christ’s finished work of atonement on our behalf on the cross.

Instead of “act of worship,” the King James Version says, “our reasonable service.” It is interesting that the word “service” used here is sometimes translated “worship.” This is not to say that only those in fulltime Christian work, whose entire lives are committed to God, are his only true worshippers. Frankly, there are those whose vocation in Christian ministry who are clearly just serving (worshipping) self or man, despite their position, and there are laymen who are fully devoted to God, and whose mission field is their home or job.

A good term for the proper heart attitude to fulfill Romans 12:1 would be “a servant’s heart.” But how do we know if we have such a heart? If you look at the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), we see Martha engaged in much service. She would be just the kind of person any ministry leader would love to have working for them. Yet, it was Mary who had the true servant’s heart (read: worship), because she was directly attending to the Lord.

This is certainly not to say that inactivity is necessarily a sign of a true servant’s heart, but that activity is not a sign. It is the motivation behind the activity that determines if our “reasonable service” is holy and acceptable to God. In fact, it is said that the true test of whether or not we have a servant’s heart is how we respond when someone treats us like a servant. If we react with a “how dare they,” we need to do a motivation check. True servants rarely seem to notice when the are treated as such—and if they do, they revel in the treatment, as “being counted worthy” to follow Christ. Martha exhibited a “how dare they attitude, indicating that lack of a true servant’s heart at that moment, even though she was deeply involved in the act of serving. Like Martha, each of us have our moments when our service in purer than others, and none of us should be fully judged on our worst moment, but we all should strive to examine our motivations, and check ourselves closely when we notice attitudes arise that are unworthy of our Lord’s service.

A good servant is patient and attentive. Imagine a king, seated at a banquet, his servant standing behind his chair. And hour has gone by without a command. Would the servant demand to be used, or express boredom? And were that servant to let his attention wander, he might miss the king’s quiet summons to attend to him. We need to quietly and attentively focus on the Lord, and respond to His commands gladly, and quickly.

A good servant doesn’t overstep his bounds, and is obedient. Remember Elisha’s servant, Gehazi in the story of Naaman (2 Kings 5:20-27)? He believed a man as rich as Naaman had gotten off too easily, and his covetousness got the better of him. He overstepped his bounds and acted on his own in his greed. We need to remember that as servants we do not represent our own interests, but God’s, and fight the temptation to be self-serving.

As we examine our hearts to learn what our motivations for service are, and whether we possess a true servant/worshipping heart, let us remember Psalm 40:6, “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but my ears You have pierced.” In Exodus 21:6 it says that if a servant didn’t want to be released from his master at Jubilee, because he loved him, he could have his ear pierced as a sign, and remain with him permanently. May that be the attitude at the core of our service—a love and devotion so deep and willing that we joyfully choose to live as an offering, our every deed of service and act of true worship.