Pay it forward – give your life

Pay it forward – give your life

I urge you . . . in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice. – Romans 12:1

Romans 12:1-8

 1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

 3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,

 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.

 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.

 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Gottfried Silbermann was commissioned by Freiburg Cathedral, to construct a new organ. It was completed in 1714 and came to be regarded as the best of the best organs ever made. It is still in service in the 21st century. One day, an organ enthusiast traveled a long way to get to the church to see it. He was a bit tattered, looking the worse for wear from his long trip. He approached the church organist and asked for permission to play the organ. The church organist refused to allow it. The man was deeply disappointed and his countenance fell.

Remarkably the church organist relented permitted him to play. The man quickly settled himself on the organ bench and began to play. Suddenly the cathedral was reverberating with marvelous tones. When he finished, the somewhat disheveled organist got up and began to walk away. The church organist stopped him and said, that was the most beautiful music I have ever heard in this cathedral! Who are you?

To which the man simply replied, Mendelssohn. The tattered man was none other than Felix Mendelssohn the greatest organist of the 19th century. The church organist was at once both astonished and a bit contrite. He exclaimed, “How could I have refused the great Mendelssohn permission to play his music on my organ!?”

What an opportunity would have been squandered if the church organist had not changed his mind. Beautiful music never played is beautiful music never heard

Mendelssohn was created to play the organ. The Father has made every child of the King for a purpose. He wants us to play our hearts out using the gifts that He is given us. How tragic when do not permit Him to realize His purpose for us and through us. Our refusal to offer our lives in service to Him is truly tragic.

Paul typically ends his letters with practical exhortation and real-life demands.

The Greek word latreia translated worship originally meant to work for hire or pay. “It denotes not slavery but the voluntary undertaking of work. It then came to mean quite generally to serve, but it also came to mean that to which one gives one’s whole life. It came very near to meaning to dedicate one’s life to. In the Bible, it is always used of service to and worship of God” (Barclay). Thus our worship is an act of service and our service is an act of worship.

This Greek word logikos is translated as reasonable, rational, spiritual service. Logikos essentially means reasonable or logical. In fact, logic is derived from this word.

Its semantic domain is reasonable, logicalintelligent, and includes reasoned worship and service. Paul is saying, “When you think about it, worshiping and serving the Father is the right thing to do.”

Thus it connotes the idea of logical, reasonable, intelligent, or reasoned worship and service. Paul is saying, “When you think about it, worshiping and serving the Father is the right thing to do.”

Longenecker’s somewhat amplified translation of Romans 12:1 reads: That it is eminently reasonable, both intellectually and spiritually, for believers in Jesus, because they experienced “the [aforementioned] mercies of God,” to dedicate themselves wholly to God – in fact, “this is your proper act of worship as rational people” (NIGTC).

What do we present to the Father as a living sacrifice? “Paul encourages us to imagine that we bring our bodies to God each day, lay them on the altar before His presence, and ask Him to use this ‘sacrifice’ for His glory and the good of His people. It’s only ‘reasonable’” (Stanley)!


“Real worship is not the offering to God of a liturgy or a ritual, or something carried out in a church. Real worship is the offering of everyday life to him” (Barclay).

Father You have graciously in love offered the life and body of the Lord Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for me. Because of his sacrifice, I am forgiven and adopted into Your family. It is only reasonable that I present myself to You in a similar fashion.


How can children of the King carry out the seemingly impossible command? If He had asked us to die, it would be a one-and-done thing. But He asked us to live and surrender. We are to be living sacrifices, unbound, willingly, and voluntarily staying put. This is so alien to the American culture of rights and freedoms.

“God does not want us to try hard to sin less, but to depend upon His Spirit to be transformed into people who love to please God through willing obedience. That transformation begins with the mind” (Stanley).

Visualize a powerful wild animal, such as a wolf or lion, that is tamed and simply carries out the wishes of its human handler. This provides an excellent word picture of what it means to stay put and present our bodies to Him.

This requires an inward radical change. Rather than being conformed to the values and priorities of the world, we are to be transformed from them.

The thought here is sublime and almost heroic. We are to intellectually consider all that Paul has taught in the book of Romans in the first 11 chapters. As we review, we recognize what the Father has done for us as children of the King. Such a realization produces a major paradigm shift in our thinking. Exercising a bit of reflection, we are enabled to make a rational decision to be transformed, that is, to have our way of thinking transformed. Though we live in the world, we are not to let the world “squeeze us into its mold” (Phillips).

We are commanded to not be conformed but rather transformed. The facts speak for themselves. As we understand and acknowledge them, it is reasonable and logical to “pay it forward.” We decide. The Father transforms our minds. Putting it in other terms, it is not up to us to try to change the way we think. Rather we decide to let the Father change the way we think for us.

We do not change outwardly per se rather we change inwardly. “What is that change? To live not a self-centered but a Christ-centered life. This must happen, Paul says, by the renewal of your mind. When Christ comes into our lives, we are new men and women; our minds are different, for the mind of Christ is in us. When Christ becomes the center of life, then we can present real worship, which is the offering of every moment and every action to God” (Barclay).


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