Planting seeds of generosity yields a garden of beauty. But we don’t dole out seeds from seed packets. We are the seeds. A generous life means giving our very selves. In response to God’s generosity to us—because of his mercies—we now offer everything about who we are to him as living sacrifices.
In Paul’s day, Romans worshiped at pagan temples to obligate the gods to give them what they wanted. Sacrifices gave the gods more power, and in turn, the gods gave positions of power, material wealth, military victory, and knowledge of the future to wield for personal gain and ambition. We still often have this attitude. We think we earn certain rights with God. When we serve, we assume we earn certain blessings, like a better job or house or even ministry opportunities. We think we bring value to God and his kingdom by our achievements and talents and that this makes us worthy of anything God gives.
But our relationship with God demands a different kind of sacrifice. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice, one that encompassed all of him, one that defines all of us, and it deserves our total and continual devotion. The world expects something back after giving, but we’ve already received everything. As we live in and for Christ, we sacrifice every piece of who we are and every area of our lives. This doesn’t mean that we stop being who we are, that we become nothing, personality-less drones, but rather that God makes us more than we could be without him, a beautiful blossom from a small seed. As God uses our gifts, he turns us into flourishing women. Later in Romans 12, Paul explains that we live this out by giving God our spiritual gifts for his use (v. 6). In his mercy and generosity, God gives us supernatural gifts, and this requires our generosity in not only offering the gifts back to God but in how we use our spiritual gifts.
a different kind of sacrifice
A living and holy sacrifice continually determines how we live and interact with the church and the world. This is a sacred duty, done with different reasons and ways than those of the world, even if the actions sometimes look similar. To use our gifts differently than how the world does things, we need Christ’s renewed understanding of goodness, truth, and beauty, a moral imagination that envisions how to act responsibly and responsively toward others. He reveals not only what our spiritual gifts are but how we are to use them, and in using them for his service, we grow in our understanding of how God wants us to live. It’s cyclical—the generous action of using our gifts gives us more assurance of God’s use of the gifts in and through us.
This kind of sacrifice is acceptable and pleasing to God, and he will accomplish supernatural results—blessings of peace and joy and love blossoming in the giver and the receiver.
Think of a time you’ve used your spiritual gift. How did you experience God’s fullness in the offering? How did you feel about yourself? How did it affect your relationship with God?
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