Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
My admiration of Paul - and particularly the Book of Romans - is no secret to anyone paying attention to my spiritual journey - that means both of you [wink]. I think, to date, I've read this book at least ten times, and pieces of it far more. So, I've obviously read the above passage enough times that I should completely comprehend it by now.
Here's where that "Living Word of God" kicks in though, proving once again that passages take on new meanings depending on where we are in our walk.
A few days ago, I read this and emailed it over to Angie, stating we needed to print it out and put it on the refrigerator, so that every time one of us felt a tug to indulge in food we really didn't need to eat, we might read it and think twice. Then, last night, I was at the 'fridge door, getting water, and sat and read it again.
We had bolded the portion of the passage that says "offer your bodies as living sacrifices" to reinforce the concept of not overindulging in food, something she and I have struggled with for a long time, but thankfully, a struggle she's been winning more and more lately (as recorded on her site).
As the water filled my bottle, the entire concept of making sacrifices ran through my mind, in one of those flash slideshows like you see in the movies. I pictured families bringing livestock to the Temple for sacrifice, people making offerings to God and even a few random images of fictional, dramatized sacrifices of fair maidens over volcanoes (yes my imagination is that overactive).
After all the images were done, I was left with a realization that these cravings for food were something I should be sacrificing to God. These times when I'd rather lay on the couch than go be active are moments where I can live sacrificially for Him. It struck me like a lightning bolt of inspiration that this must be what Paul meant by being a "living sacrifice."
"Living for God" can just be three empty words if I'm not actually living sacrificially. Sure, we tithe, we donate time, we help our church, our friends and family. But, if we give these cravings and other times where we're drawn to gluttony, sloth and other sins of the flesh over to God, instead of indulging them, we're offering our bodies as a living sacrifice.
To that end, I'm joining a gym tomorrow. I will also enact a strict diet to speed my physical recovery from "fat, old guy" to a man who truly looks fit, trim and young for his age. I might be turning 43 next month, but that doesn't mean I have to look like it.
For those of you who call me friend, I beg you to ask me about this frequently. Speak the truth in love and keep me accountable. As a writer, I'm forced to spend long hours every day sitting in a chair staring at this computer, which does nothing for my physical well-being. But, you can reach out to me through it and encourage me to work out and avoid unnecessary trips to the fridge.
If I truly want to be full-grown spiritually, I must also have a sharp mind and fit body. The three are symbiotic and if one falters, the other two are pulled down with it. It's like a three-legged table, if one leg falters the table will surely tip over and fall.
I'm praying that by toning my body, I'll sharpen my mind, strengthen my spirit and, by default, find myself able to achieve far more for God.
As the cliché goes, tomorrow is the "first day of the rest of my life." Pray with me that it's also the first day of a new life of physical fitness instead of sedentary fatness.
You gave me this body, free of disease and major defects, yet I've seldom worked to maintain it, please forgive me. You amaze me by keeping me as healthy as I am and for that I'm very thankful. Please accept my cravings and laziness as a living sacrifice to you, Father, as I deny those things and give them to you. Please remind me hourly that I am Your son, blessed with the power of the Holy Spirit to be a good and faithful servant. But to be that, I must offer these things to You, each and every time.
In Jesus Name I Pray,