In Romans 12:1, the Apostle Paul instructs us to be “living sacrifices.” As you keep reading it seems Paul is appealing to us to sacrifice our wills in order to be in the center of His will.
Paul is challenging us to give and put at God’s disposal our very lives. But are we doing that? Am I at God’s disposal seeking to live for Him or do I see God at my disposal to give me what I want?
I think we all have trouble comprehending the word “sacrifice.” It does not hold a great deal of appeal to modern people. They see it only in terms of being deprived of something. I gained a whole new appreciation of the idea of sacrificing when I was given an enlightening definition. Sacrifice is “the forfeiture (giving up) of something highly valued for the sake of something of even greater value.
A woman by the name of Mary Hunt has written a wonderful piece on this:
Budgets, diets, and New Year’s resolutions must top the list of “Things Most Likely to Fail.” No wonder, because each of them spells deprivation, and deprivation feels terrible. We can handle it only for short periods of time before we simply cave in and give up.
Emotions and desire can be so powerful that they overcome all good sense and render any potential change completely out of the question. But you can control your emotions.
I’ve learned that I could replace my fear of deprivation with the joy of sacrifice. I’ve learned to harness my powerful emotions, turning them into my ally instead of my enemy. And I’ve purposely set out to embrace sacrifice and reject all feelings of deprivation.
Sacrifice and Deprivation
Sacrifice means to give up something of value for the sake of something else that is more important or more worthy. Deprivation means to have a possession or enjoyment taken away. Once I learned the startling difference between the two concepts, I understood immediately why meaningful change kept eluding me.
Sacrifice is a beautiful concept. It involves purpose. It acknowledges a goal that’s more worthy and of greater value than the sacrifice itself. There’s no deprivation, simply a choice to give up something of lesser value now in order to have or achieve something far more worthy.
I do not think we realize how God’s will is of such greater value than my own sinful, selfish will. But do we really want God’s will in our lives? Is this truly our heart’s desire?
Yet do we really understand what it means to be in the center of God’s will and to follow God’s will? What most people don’t realize is that God’s general will for us is primarily laid out in the Bible. For instance, it is God’s will that we be honest, that we be unselfish, generous and kind. It is God’s will that we be faithful to our spouse and that we be humble and forgiving.
These are not arbitrary laws that God pulled out of the air. They fit our design and enable us to function well and to flourish.
When we deliberately choose to live outside the will of God, we are going against the grain of our own nature. This is why so many people harm themselves. However, when we seek to be in the will of God, we are living in harmony with our design. We are living the life we were meant to live.
Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.