A LIVING FAITH IN ACTION
When we contemplate the great love and mercy of Yahweh, our utter reliance upon Him and our own inability to overcome sin despite our best efforts, then faith will conclude that the only reasonable course of action is one of humble submission. Effort and perseverance is required, yet still something is lacking if we are to develop a truly living faith. Now Paul writes:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1
Paul exhorts his readers to respond whole heartedly to the mercies of Yahweh by presenting themselves as living sacrifices. This becoming a living sacrifice involves a willing giving over of oneself, being set apart to His service in order that we might be well pleasing to Him. Moreover Paul says that this attitude of heart and mind is a reasonable or logical outcome of appreciating the unmerited love and mercy that has been extended towards us.
Considering that whatever we possess be it health, possessions, skills, abilities, knowledge, yes or even life itself, it has been given to us. We were born with nothing and will die leaving all behind, we have nothing whatsoever that we can call our own. What then can we offer to Yahweh who gave all in the first place? What can we offer to Yahweh in return for His goodness and love apart from the willing offering of ourselves back to Him?
The Law of Moses required sacrifice, but the offering of animals in themselves was insufficient, it was the attitude of the heart and mind of the person making the sacrifice that was all important. David wrote:
“I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD Now in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the LORD’S house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!” Psalm 116:17-19
Praise the Lord indeed! But praise in deed as well as by word says David. Fulfil your vows, the covenant entered into at baptism, and render thanksgiving to Him for all that He has done for you. We praise and honour Him by conforming to His will and putting aside humanistic thought. Paul continues in that quote from Romans 12:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Rom 12:1-2
This then is the outworking of a living faith put into action, the presenting of oneself as a living sacrifice by a life dedicated to Yahweh. A life dedicated to striving to honour Him, to know and obey His will as revealed in His Word. A life that strives to no longer be conformed to human nature and selfish desires, but rather longs to be renewed and purified from all evil.
When we think of the great hope set before the children of God, a hope that not one of them deserve and then consider that we have been invited to join that Divine family, then joyous praise should spring forth from our lips. Paul writes:
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Heb 13:15-16
Not one of us is perfect, yet how often we judge others by their shortcomings in matters that deep down inside we know that we also fail at. Sadly we live in a world that asserts what it perceives as human rights and this attitude of having ‘rights’ infiltrates the ecclesia’s of Christ, the body him who died that we might have life. Willing self sacrifice has the opposite attitude for:
Jesus speaks of this underpinning principle of self sacrifice saying:
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:1:44-45
If our Creator and Father makes His sun to shine and rain to fall upon both just and unjust, we are His children only if we show in some measure that same spirit of compassion, the more so to our fellow brethren and sisters for whom Christ died. Therefore if our true desire is to be children of God, we must strive to do good, offering a willing sacrifice of a life dedicated to Him, desiring the attainment of godliness:
“For "He who would love life and see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil." 1Peter 3:10-12
A living faith put into action seeks and desires peace above all. Not a peaceful life, not peace of mind, nor peace with others, but the greatest treasure that transcends all we could ever desire, peace with Yahweh. To be reconciled to Him is the true and only goal of a living faith.