“Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 RSV).
Salvation is not the reward or wages of good works; it is purely the gift of God. No one can be justified or saved by faith in his self-righteousness, good performance, or religious works. Salvation is purely by grace alone through faith alone in the person and finished work of Jesus on the cross (Rom. 3:20-22, 4:1-5, Gal. 2:16, Eph. 2:8-9).
However, saving faith without good works is dead, useless and unprofitable to anyone.
The Scripture queries in James 2:
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (NKJV).
Having become saved by faith in Jesus Christ, it is expected of you to gladly love, obey, worship and serve the Lord, not merely as a religious obligation or as a means of earning God’s love, acceptance, favour or blessing, but as a loving, grateful or thankful response to the pure, selfless and unconditional love of Jesus Christ towards you.
This is what the Bible called “your spiritual or reasonable service” in Rom. 12:1 ASV and NKJV.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.” (Rom. 12:1 ASV).
“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.” (Rom. 12:1 NKJV).
What are the basic elements of a spiritual or reasonable service?
Let us consider what the Bible teaches about spiritual or reasonable service which the Bible says is holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1).
First, a spiritual or reasonable service to God is voluntary: Having being bought with a great price, the precious blood of Christ, you don’t legally belong anymore to yourself, but to Jesus Christ alone who bought you with His precious blood.
The Scripture clearly states: “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” (1 Cor. 7:23 NKJV).
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20 NKJV).
Although you legally belong to the Lord Jesus Christ who bought you with His precious blood, yet Christ will not compel you to love, obey, worship or serve Him against your wish or will. What a gentle Lord and Saviour!
After many of the followers of Jesus had departed from Him, the Lord turned to the twelve disciples with Him, asking, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:67 NKJV). Apparently, the Lord Jesus does not want anyone to love, follow, or serve Him forcefully, grudgingly, or reluctantly.
Any service or good work you are forced, coaxed, or manipulated by anyone to render in the name of the Lord is simply a carnal, unreasonable, and unprofitable service. Whatever you give to the Lord or give in the name of the Lord grudgingly, reluctantly or half-heartedly is unacceptable to the Lord.
The Scripture admonishes: “Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7 RSV).
Second, a spiritual or reasonable service to God is personal: The Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for your sins so that you may have a personal, loving and intimate relationship with God.
Salvation is a personal decision to receive God’s gift of eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus. Nobody can do this for you and you cannot do it for anybody. The Scripture states: “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom. 10:10 NKJV).
Likewise, consecration or devotion to God is a personal decision. Nobody can love, obey, worship or serve God on your behalf. It is something you have to do personally and deliberately. It is you that must personally decide to deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow the Lord Jesus daily.
Jesus said: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV).
It is unreasonable to expect someone to deny yourself for you, take up your cross daily for you, and follow Jesus closely and daily for you. It is you that must personally, willingly, cheerfully and wholeheartedly consecrate or devote your life, your time, your strength, your talents and resources to God and His Kingdom. This is a worship or service that is holy, spiritual, reasonable and acceptable to God (Rom. 6:13, 12:1).
Third, a spiritual or reasonable service to God is presenting your body as a living sacrifice to God: Under the Old Covenant, when a worshipper brings a sacrifice to God, he relinquishes his claim on it and abandons it on the altar to be consumed by the fire burning on the altar (Lev. 1:1-9).
In the same way, God expects the New Covenant believers to present, yield or surrender their bodies unreservedly to Him.
Paul admonishes: “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.” (Rom. 12:1 NKJV).
“I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.” (Rom. 6:19 NKJV).
Presenting yourself to God as a living sacrifice implies renouncing or releasing your claim or right to your life and to all that you possess or have. It also speaks of surrendering yourself and all that you have willingly, voluntarily, gladly, and entirely to God to do with your life and all that you have as He pleases.
Unlike the Old Testament dead animals which are offered as sacrifices to God, the New Testament believers are expected to be dead only to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The Scripture admonishes: “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:11 NKJV).
“And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Rom. 6:13 NKJV).
Beloved, God is calling you today to relinquish your claim and right to your life, your time, your money, your skills, your talents and other resources, and to consecrate, devote or surrender them willingly, cheerfully, entirely and unreservedly to the Lord Jesus Christ who redeemed you with His precious blood from the slavery or bondage of Satan.
This is your spiritual or reasonable service!
The Scripture admonishes: “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:20 NKJV).
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58 NKJV).
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, help me by Your Spirit to present my whole being willingly, gladly, wholeheartedly and continually to You as a living sacrifice, in Jesus’ name. Amen.