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.
Romans 12:1 ESV
“Therefore.” We use this word when we desire those listening to act or at least realize something based on what we just shared. It is a form of cause and effect. Because I said this, you should accept or do this. Because of this situation, you should behave in this particular manner. Therefore (pun intended), when Paul begins chapter 12 with “therefore,” it is imperative we look back to what he just shared. For what he just shared directly correlates to the message he is about to deliver.
So what did he just share? Well, the chapter preceding Romans 12 is a chapter focused on God’s wisdom in the hardening of some hearts and the softening of others. Paul reminds his readers that God can and will use the disobedience of the Israelites to bring salvation to the Gentiles and then the obedience of the Gentiles to lead the Israelites back to obedience. He points out that God has a plan for both the Gentiles and the Israelites–that neither is worthy of salvation, but both will receive salvation.
Paul then ends the chapter with the following declaration:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36 ESV)
Did you catch what led to Paul’s appeal in verse one of Romans 12?
For from and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever….Therefore.
Because God is God. Because His ways are higher and more intricate than our finite minds could ever comprehend. Because nothing we could ever do or say could ever earn what God has freely given to us. Because God deserves glory through everything–yes everything. Because of who God is and who we are (and are not), we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices. Every moment of every day we are to submit ourselves to Him. When we don’t understand–when our hearts are hurting–when our world is crumbling before us–we are to submit. We are to get on our knees and cry out, “Thy will be done.” And even when life is good and all is well, we are to submit–we are to offer ourselves to Him with humility and reverence.
Because He is God and we are not. Because from him and through him and to him are all things. Yes, all things. No, God doesn’t cause evil. No, God does not send us temptation. But He can use it. He can use that neighbor’s hardened heart. He can use that sweet little girl’s horrible illness. He is more than able and more than willing to use anything–and anyone–for His good pleasure.
Therefore, I urge you as Paul does in Romans 12: present yourself to God as a living sacrifice today. Whether or not you like and whether or not you understand your current circumstances, bow before Him today. Bow before Him and say, “Here I am, Lord; use me. Use me in my brokenness. Use my hurting heart.” Or if all is well, cry out for God to use your comfort to comfort others. Submit your well being to the One who deserves the glory for it.
Now I am not sure what you are going through today. I am not sure where you have been or where you are going. I do not know the things you have suffered, the pain you have endured, or the heartache you are currently experiencing. I cannot even fully understand the joy, peace, and contentment that may be overwhelming your soul this very moment.
But God does. God knows it all. He knows each of us intimately. He knows each of us more than we know ourselves. And He knows exactly what you are thinking and exactly what you need this very moment.
So rest in this today. Rest in the knowledge that God is God, and you are as child. And regardless of whether or not you understand what is happening to you or going on around you, submit. Present yourself as that living sacrifice–a sacrifice made holy and acceptable by the grace of God. For in so doing you are worshipping. You are praising. You are giving glory to the only One who deserves it. You are not being conformed; you are being transformed–“...that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 NKJV).