Multiple times in my life I have arrived at a dilemma in my walk with Jesus. It is God’s It is real easy, a little too easy, for a servant of God to neglect themself while serving God and others. Essentially it is putting others first as we neglect our own hearts. As I said, it is real easy for me to do this. I literally have thrown myself under the bus in preference of another many times. Oops.
Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1 HCSB
But Romans 12:1 is not the only scriptural call we are to live out. And though there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends, I also am to love others AS I love myself. The key is, from my love of Him and myself, I am able to actually love others with a pure love.
When I love others from my own neglect of self, I eventually will become downcast and bitter. While being a servant is often thankless and sacrificial, it is never purposed for my neglecting of my own heart and life. I always have to love myself and as I do His love flows through me towards others.
With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give Him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to Him and acceptable by Him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.
Romans 12:1 PHILLIPS
“Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? To surrender yourselves to God to be His sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights His heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.”
Romans 12:1 TPT
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1 AMPC
This is all so powerful and true. Living out the call to sacrifice your own life in preference of another is beautiful. Our Savior did this so willingly. Out of love He surrendered His life. No greater love is displayed in this. But He never neglected His own living expression with His Father. His true preference was always His Abba’s love, Will and Life. He never threw His life under the bus but rather cast it upon the Will of His Father.
Here are some other scriptural calls on our lives.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:4 ESV
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
1 Corinthians 10:24 ESV
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 ESV
These are all beautiful because it is counter to the world system which always saves self to the exclusion of others. In the world system, the only time you will see selfless acts is when those acts gain something for self. Oxymoron, huh?! But such is the world. Self is always for self no matter how much it attempts to convince us of the contrary. Only Christ’s Life has the power to live selfless. And as I let Him live in me, I can live selflessly and sacrifice myself to a sacred and holy call.
Don’t stare at me because I am dark—the sun has darkened my skin. My brothers were angry with me; they forced me to care for their vineyards, so I couldn’t care for myself—my own vineyard.
Song of Songs 1:6 NLT
Presenting My Body
Self-sacrifice is not for sacrificial sake, it is for obedience and unto Him. My neglect of self doesn’t have the redemptive nature I long to produce. My neglect of self only has the power to exhaust and devalue my heart and life. But if I follow the Spirit in my sacrifice He will bring about His great redemptive nature and make my temporal expression something deeply eternal. Imagine a temporal expression that gives way to eternal expression. I can bring in the Kingdom with heavenly focus and preference as I present my body as a living sacrifice. This is almost too much!
Presenting my body without sacrificing myself is an act of worship that honors myself and my God. I never again want to neglect my life and heart because this doesn’t honor the God who created me. I can live sacrificially without being neglectful of myself as His beloved. Christ proved this over and over.