Timeless Truth for Young Believers: Living Sacrifice is Love

Now that you are saved, you have probably been challenged by the words of Romans 12:1-2, “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 …” (ESV). But what is a living sacrifice? What does someone who is transformed by the renewal of their mind look like? Well, they look very nice. More than anything else, they are characterized by love, real love. And what is greater than love (1Cor 13)? Love may be defined as an attitude that is displayed by self-sacrificing service. So it should be no surprise that a “living sacrifice” is a life of love.

In the practical teaching that follows Romans 12:1 (ch12-15), love is mentioned nine times. It is a Spirit-empowered life (Rom 8), and the fruit of the Spirit is, first and foremost, love (Gal 5:22). Sometimes we lean heavily on the law; it is so holy and definite. It gives us structure and authority. But law without love is powerless. Consider the law of love in these few verses: Psalm 119:97; Romans 13:10; Galations 5:14; and James 2:8.

Remember, we’re talking about real love. In fact, he tells us this near the start. Romans 12:9, “Let love be genuine” (ESV). Don’t fake it. Who does that impress? According to Romans 12:9-21, love means showing hospitality, sharing other people’s joy (instead of becoming jealous), sympathizing with them in their sorrow (instead of criticizing), responding to evil with patient trust and goodness, being humble, and channeling your competitive spirit into outdoing one another in serving and honoring them. And, don’t be hypocritical. “Let love be genuine.” This is serious stuff; nothing soft about it. This is a living sacrifice to God. And it’s hard. In fact, it’s impossible without abiding in Christ, Who did not please Himself (Rom 15:3), but sacrificially put others ahead of Himself. Always remember the fellow believers whom you are called to serve are worthy of your love, for they are ones “for whom Christ died” (Rom 14:15).

One more thing: real love involves hatred. You don’t love without hating. Think again of Romans 12:9, which says, “Let love be genuine. Don’t be overly friendly with what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (ESV). No it doesn’t! Stop the presses! It says “ABHOR what is evil”! Intense, passionate distaste and avoidance. This is serious. This is like Christ, Who “loved righteousness and hated wickedness” (Heb 1:9 ESV). Real love and real holiness go hand in hand. So this living sacrifice, this new life of love, is as verse 1 says: “holy and acceptable to God;” it is “worship.” This is why God saved you.