“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. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” –Romans 12:1-2 ESV
I’ve always been intrigued with the phrase, “a living sacrifice.” When you’re speaking with a Jewish audience, and you use the word “sacrifice,” they’re going to imagine a dead one. The act of killing is part of the process. A living sacrifice is a whole new concept.
And it’s a tricky one. Because a living sacrifice is a whole lot harder to deal with than a dead one. A living sacrifice keeps wanting to crawl off the altar. It must be offered daily.
Maybe, if the part of the body you’re sacrificing to God is your eyes, then maybe that sacrifice needs to be minute by minute.
What about our eyes? How can we offer our eyes as a living sacrifice to God?
The psalmist says:
I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile. –Psalm 101:3
The word “vile” means wicked, perverted, offensive, disgusting, cheap, or degrading. Do we allow ourselves to look at any of that stuff? Do our eyes find their way to things that fit any of those descriptions?
I almost decided to skip talking about pornography here because it seemed a little too obvious. Everyone knows that we should keep our eyes away from that stuff, right?
That’s right, every second!
Pornography revenue in the United States exceeds the combined revenue of ABC, NBC and CBS. So maybe it bears talking about. Especially when you consider that, according to a 2014 survey of self-identified adult Christian men, 77% say they look at pornography at least monthly.
It’s a problem.
How can we “present our bodies as a living sacrifice” when our eyes (and presumably other parts as well) are being used in this manner? How can we “be transformed by the renewing of our minds” when so much of our mental energy is given over to the god of lust?
There’s something else to consider for those of us who are married men. The apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:7 that we should treat our wives with respect so that nothing hinders our prayers. What is more disrespectful to your wife than to look lustfully at another woman? Not only does it impact our marriages and our thoughts, but it hinders our prayers, as well.
Men, this must stop.
We must keep our eyes from crawling off the altar.
But wait, there’s more…
It seems to me that, if we’re presenting our eyes to God as a “living sacrifice,” there are some other things we must consider.
As we scroll through our Twitter feed or your Facebook newsfeed, what links grab our eyes? Am I a sucker for the outrageous “click bait”?
Do I fall for the “fake news” that seems to justify my already formed opinion, simply because it takes too much discipline to search for the truth?
Or, how about this:
Do I have a hard time seeing the good…
…in another person?
…in another race?
…in my own church?
…in almost anything?
God doesn’t look at the outside, he looks at the heart. It’s a skill we need to learn. Obviously, we’ll never be able to see within another person the way God can, but we can learn to look deeper than we do.
I’m sure this isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a start.
We just have to learn to take an honest look within.
It’s a matter of presenting our eyes as a living sacrifice.
You can read what I wrote about offering our hands here.