Summary: Giving God everything you have is the only acceptable response in light of all He has done for us.
Giving your all
Scripture Text: Romans 12:1-2
Introduction: On Friday a 21 yr. old Olympic Athlete died while practicing for his competition. Years of sacrifice and training: gone in an instant. Olympians are extremely focused individuals. They spend a lifetime preparing physically, mentally, and emotionally for something that only takes place every four years, with events where the outcome is decided in just a matter of minutes, or even seconds. They are willing to sacrifice time, sleep, food, friends, and many other things for just the possibility of a gold medal. That’s giving it your all.
Now think about this: can we be put in the same category? Are we equally willing to give our all for the cause of Christ? Total surrender is the only response that makes sense in light of the mercy that God has shown to us.
I. A Living Sacrifice – verse 1
After spending 11 chapters describing man’s rebellion against God and the extent that God went to in order to offer us salvation Paul now turns his attention to our response. The word translated “Urge” (NIV) and “Beseech” (NKJV) carries with it the idea of a companion, or mentor who comes along side of you in order to offer encouragement/correction. The encouragement that he offers is that we should consider God’s mercy and respond to it with our life. In other words be a living sacrifice.
A. Because of God’s mercy to us
Paul says, “Therefore, I urge you, in view of God’s mercy…” Take just a moment and think about God’s mercy to you? Only two chapters into Genesis mankind was already in rebellion against God, and we still rebel against Him today. He could have pronounced judgment on us then and erased us from existence and he would have been right.
Instead of giving us judgment, though, he spared us. Instead of giving us what we deserved He took our punishment on Himself. That is mercy. Where justice says, “There is a price that has to be paid” mercy says, “I’ll forgive.” Where God’s Holiness demanded judgment on sin - “For the wages of sin is death…” His love satisfied sin’s price through the blood of His Son, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
In His book, Experiencing God's Forgiveness, Luis Palau describes mercy with this story:
A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death.
"But I don't ask for justice," the mother explained. "I plead for mercy."
"But your son does not deserve mercy," Napoleon replied.
"Sir," the woman cried, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for."
"Well, then," the emperor said, "I will have mercy." And he spared the woman's son.
Paul is encouraging his readers to consider God’s great mercy in sparing us and in light of that mercy to respond with sacrifice. There is a sacrifice that he says is, “holy and pleasing to God.” One that He will accept, one that He desires: a sacrifice that is the only “reasonable” (NKJV) response to the grace that has been extended to us.