One of my strong childhood memories is my mom’s frequent use of President Truman’s familiar saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!” I have a word of encouragement for you today about a holy heat that, by God’s grace, we learn how to live in and love over time.
I urge you, brothers, 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. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)
You may remember that the Old Testament records several instances when animals without spot or blemish were offered as sacrifices to God for worship or a devotion offering or for forgiveness of sin. These animals were selected by the priests and had no say in the matter. In other words, they didn’t get a vote!
But the death of Christ put an end to the Old Testament sacrificial system, because He is the Lamb of God without spot or blemish. John the Baptist called Him “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
The New Testament reveals that, since the finished cross work of Christ, God has instituted a new sacrificial system and it includes us. “In view of His mercy,” we are to become a voluntary “living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” as an expression of our thankfulness for all He has done for us.
The problem with being a living sacrifice is the heat in God’s kitchen. We have a tendency to pull back and crawl off the altar of the Almighty when it gets too hot in the kitchen . . . when we think the sacrifice may be too costly or uncomfortable. Only by keeping God’s mercy in plain view can we learn to love the holy heat God sends our way in order to conform us to the likeness of His beloved Son.
So . . . how well are you learning to love being a living sacrifice? Our love will always be in direct proportion to our view of God’s mercy. Everything we have is because of the mercy of our God. Out next breath . . . the next beat of our heart . . . every temporal and every spiritual blessing has been given to us because of the mercy of our Master. The more we keep His mercy in view, the more holy heat we will be able to endure.
We are called to die to sin, to live to Christ, and to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to our merciful Savior. Think back for a moment about the last time the heat was turned up in God’s kitchen. How did you respond? Did you receive it in view of God’s mercy or did you run out of His kitchen? Regardless of our past responses, we can look forward with positive anticipation to the next time God turns up the holy heat; by keeping His mercy in view, we will learn to live in and love His holy heat!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!