Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship (Romans 12:1).
Fear can be a great motivator. Fear of failure, fear of disease, or the fear of a drill instructor can inspire a person to do things never before attempted.
Some people even use fear as motivation to serve God. That’s understandable, but sad.
Fear does, indeed, enter into our relationship with the Lord of life and death. Our conscience quickly tells us that we have violated his laws—and there will be consequences.
His Word tells us that our violations are greater than we imagined, and the penalties are so severe that they go beyond our imagination.
So, who is not going to be driven by fear to try to do that which God commands?
The child of God.
A small child may help put away some groceries lest his mother becomes angry. The mature child will help put them away out of love for her. The Christian is that loving child.
As the new year begins, we give thought to what we want to do in the days ahead. We will be considering how we want to live the rest of our life. Maybe we want to make some lifestyle changes: lose weight, exercise more, pay all of our bills on time.
All this might be good, but it is not as important as deciding how we want to live our lives in relation to God’s expectations.
The Apostle Paul told those Christians in the capital city of the Roman Empire: “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice”!
This goes beyond deciding to curse less, go to church more, and be kind to others. This involves giving up our lives. The word is, “sacrifice.”
We know what it means to sacrifice a life for our nation. Are we also supposed to sacrifice our life for our God? Isn’t that a bit extreme?
But didn’t the Son of God sacrifice his life for us? Isn’t every good thing we have in life a gift from him?
What enables us to keep breathing? Who provides the food and air that we cannot live without? If he would withdraw his support, we would be like a brain deprived of oxygen. We could only whimper and die.
So, why did the holy God give us life and salvation? We recall the famous words, “God so loved the world…”
Why should we freely want to live our life—not for ourselves, but for him?
Because, “God so loved the world…”
We love him because he first loved us.
We enter the new year thus motivated.
In the Second Article of the famous Apostles’ Creed we admit that we believe, “in Jesus Christ.” We acknowledge that he is our Lord who bought us with his “holy, precious blood…” Then, we make our commitment:“That I should be his own, and live under him in his kingdom,and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.”
We reaffirm that loving commitment for yet another year with the words:
This is most certainly true. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military