I like Paul’s appeal at the beginning of the chapter. His “therefore,” to me, refers back to the 11 previous chapters. Therefore, since God has done so much for us and has given us the ability to have eternal life, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, we ought to give our lives to Him. In fact, that’s our reasonable service. Because He’s given us the opportunity to cheat death and live eternally, since He’s given us His only Son, it’s only reasonable that we devote our lives to Him.
1I 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.
The ESV says “spiritual worship,” and this version tends to be very literal, but I really like the way the New King James renders this phrase – and that is, “reasonable service.” How can we do any less for Him when He’s done so much for us?
The rest of chapter 12 always frightens me a bit, as I live my daily life. I wonder sometimes, “Is it possible to live this way? Am I actually capable of doing all this?” It seems so impossible at times. Do I think too highly of myself? Do I love everyone? Do I show honor to others? Am I patient when trials occur? Do I seek to show hospitality? Am I constant in prayer? Do I contribute to the needs of the saints – in a real way? Do I bless those who make my life difficult? These are things we deal with on a daily basis! People at work aren’t always seeking to bless me. Do I always seek their best interests? Do I associate with the lowly? Am I conceited? Do I seek to love and respect my enemies?
The honest answer hurts. I am not so perfect. But that’s the beauty of God’s plan. We are saved by grace, through faith in the risen Jesus. He expects us to live righteously – that’s our reasonable service for what He has done for us. But I am human. I make mistakes. My human nature comes through at times and I fail. But as I seek the Jesus of the Bible, my desire to please Him and serve Him becomes stronger. His Spirit gives me power to live as I ought as I mature in Him.
So why don’t I just sin? Since I’m saved by grace what’s the big fat deal? The truth is that in any true relationship, one seeks to please the other. If a person has a real relationship with the God of the Bible, that person will seek to please Him. And He will reward that faith and dedication with eternal life.