Hello everyone and welcome to episode 49 where today we consider the importance of sacrifice in our relationships.
In episode 48 last week, I made the case that chapter 12 in the Book of Romans is to my way of thinking, the most relational chapter in the whole Bible. There is much we can learn about relationships in the 21 verses of this passage.
It all starts with the first verse in Romans 12, where the apostle Paul says, Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, 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. It is all about our relationship with God. And this relationship is the basis for all other relationships mentioned in the rest of the chapter.
It raises the question of what does it mean to “offer your body as a living sacrifice.” It is an important question that deserves our consideration.
So stay tuned.
Speaking of “stay tuned,” there’s an old salesman adage that goes like this, “Everyone is tuned into radio station Wii-FM.” Wii-FM is an acronym for What’s In It for Me.
Part of the human condition is wanting to know how an action we take is going to benefit us. We always want to know “what’s in it for me?” Before we can answer this question, as it relates to offering our bodies as living sacrifices, we need to define a few terms. The first is “bodies.”
“Bodies” refers not just to our physical structure of bones, skin, and organs, it refers to all of our personhood. It refers to everything that makes us a human being, the physical part of us, as well as the emotional, relational, and spiritual components of our make-up. It includes our behaviors, our feelings, our decisions, our hopes and dreams, our regrets, our preferences, etc. . It’s all of this and more. It’s everything there is that’s about us.
The second term to consider is “living sacrifice.” The Roman audience who received Paul’s letter would have been familiar with dead sacrifices. You know the drill, get a goat, sheep or other animal, then kill it and drain its blood over an altar. Once done, that animal could no longer be offered as a sacrifice because the life of the animal was drained out of it. One and done.
But a living sacrifice is another matter. A living sacrifice can be made over and over again. It’s a metaphor for repeatedly offering up one’s self to God. It’s saying to God, “I’m yours; do with me what you will.”
Taken in the context of the rest of chapter 12 of Romans, Paul’s urging to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice is directed towards our relationships with people. Let me read this passage to you and see if you hear what I hear. Namely, that the overall tone is one of God calling us to live in sacrificial relationship with others.
[Read Romans 12: 2- 3]
I need to stop here for a second. The verses I just read call for us to live in a way that’s not our natural inclination. We want to conform to the pattern of this world. We want to think of our selves highly. It is a sacrifice to do the opposite, but that’s what God is telling us to do. Moving on in the text.
[Read Romans 12:4-21]
To live sacrificially in our relationships is to give of our self to people. To relinquish our desires and rights that we have, for the sake of the well-being of another. To sacrifice our self in a relationship is to defer to another for their benefit. It’s to willingly let part of our life be drained out from us, like the blood from an Old Testament sacrifice, and then transfused into the life of another so they can experience the life God intended for them.
It’s to live counter-intuitively with people, and to do so is a sacrifice, which in turn pleases God, and which in turn is a spiritual act of worship.
Here’s an example:
[The story of my sister Judy, arranging a family reunion with her siblings to reunite everyone with their father. Some who had not seen or communicated with him in over 30 years. A distant abusive man. Judy sacrificed her own emotional well-being to pull this off. A detailed account of it is found in my book, THEM, pp. 60-62]
The thing I like about this story is the relational sacrifice Judy made to bring everyone together. The neglect and literal abandonment of her father, our father, did not stop her from attempting to create some relational goodness in such a crazy disjointed family. She ran the risk of being rejected again, of exposing herself to more unkindness and abuse from her father. But she took the plunge and did far more than anyone would ever expect.
Parents should be the initiator with their children when there’s disconnection. That’s a parent’s job, not the child’s role. But Judy sacrificed all that in an attempt to bring about a measure of healing. I’m really proud of her and what she did. What a great model of sacrifice she was for me. It’s inspiring to me, and I hope to you as well.
Here’s what I learned today. Here’s what struck me
It’s a sacrifice to relate well with others. It takes something from us. It’s about resisting our natural inclination to put our needs above the needs of others. It’s not easy, and we need God’s power in our life to do this. Yet when we do it well, it pleases God, and becomes a high form of worship to Him.
A relationship without sacrifice isn’t really a relationship.
God loves other people far more than we do, and when we sacrifice ourselves to love and relate well with, and care for others, we jump on the bandwagon God is driving down the street, and how that must please him.
If you forget everything else, here’s the one thought, the one idea, I hope you remember from today’s episode. Our show in a sentence
To enrich our relationships, look for ways to sacrifice for the other person, which in turn will please God and become a spiritual act of worship to Him.
Here’s a way you can respond to today’s show
Think about the people who have sacrificed for you, where they have given up something to help you be the person you are today. And then thank God for bringing those people into your life. And then if you're brave enough, write them a note thanking them for their sacrifice on your behalf.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your various relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Now for Our Relationship Quote of the Week
We all drink from wells we haven't dug. ~ Author unknown
That’s all for today. See you next week. Bye for now.