“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
In this very well-known verse, Paul is pleading with us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. But in the very next verse he points out something we all know to be true: the only way that our bodies can be a living sacrifice is if they remain connected to our minds. Otherwise, they would be like all the animal sacrifices made in the past. They would be dead.
James puts it this way:
…faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. –James 2:14-17
The only way to offer our hands, knees and eyes as a living sacrifice is by being transformed by the renewing of our minds.
This may be doubly true when it comes to offering our mouths.
It’s true that the entire body is controlled by the mind and expresses what is in the mind, but what other part offers such clear and immediate access its contents? One time when Jesus was scolding the Pharisees, he said to them, “How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) A few verses later he warns: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
I don’t know about you, but I find that last sentence pretty sobering.
There’s much more to offering our mouths than opening them up to sing on Sunday morning. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it definitely includes that. I mean, whether the music is your favorite style or not, if the song is pitched in your range or somewhere in the stratosphere, whether or not you appreciate the fashion sense of the worship leader…none of these things are really the point. It’s the leader’s responsibility to take these things into consideration. That’s on them.
But what comes out of our mouths is our responsibility. That’s on us.
But, as I said, there is much more to offering our mouths than singing in church. Every word we speak aloud, every meme we post on social media, every political discussion, every Facebook status, every Tweet, every attempt at humor, whom we decide to speak to and why…all must be a living sacrifice.
It’s our spiritual act of worship.
Consider these words of Jesus:
“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
“Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
So, here’s the question we need to consider:
What comes out of our mouths?
Encouragement or criticism?
Mercy or anger?
Love or hatred?
Kindness or cursing?
Faith or doubt?
Peace or animosity?
Joy or hopelessness?
Have I offered my words to God as a “living sacrifice,” or do I continue to use them strictly for my own selfish purposes?
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
That should be our prayer as well.