THE WORD: Living Sacrifices

“Crucifixion of St. Peter” by Caravaggio (1600) is an oil painting in the Chapel of the Assumption, Rome. (Public Domain) 

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1 

The godly life is not one of ease, pleasure and self-indulgence. 

We are taught to present our bodies, as a living sacrifice unto God. Ancient offerings were brought to the altar, and presented dead. But the Christian sacrifice, instead of being poured out in a bloody oblation, is to be a living sacrifice of service, of love, of devotion. 

The great sacrifice of Christ is both the model for all Christian life, and also its inspiration. We look at His six hours on the cross — as if that were its only act and expression. But the cross was not endured by Christ merely during those six hours on Calvary; it was in all His life, in every day and hour of it. Everything He did was in love, and love is always a living sacrifice. He was always sacrificing Himself. On Calvary, He only wrote the word out in capitals.  

The cross stands not merely for the sufferings of Christ endured in redeeming sinners — but also for the law of love and of sacrifice in every department of Christian living. It is not enough to have the cross on our churches, as a symbol of redemption; or to wear it as an ornament around our neck; the cross must be in the heart — and manifested in the life. 

We talk a great deal about the love of Christ — but we must strive to illustrate it and reproduce in our own lives, in our own measure — the sweetness, the charity, the kindness and the helpfulness of Jesus Christ. The cross is everywhere. The more of the “sacrificial” quality we get into our life — the diviner and the lovelier our life will be. 

We do not have to be crucified on pieces of wood — to bear a cross, and make a living sacrifice. The cross must be in the lives of those who follow Christ; not branded on their bodies — but wrought into their character, their disposition, their conduct, their spirit. We cannot live a Christian life for a day, without coming to points of sacrifice.  

The cross of Christ does not take our own cross from us — Christ does not bear our cross for us. His cross becomes the law of our life, and makes it all sacrificial. Every sacrificial thing we do, reveals the cross. The Beatitudes are all sacrificial. No one can live the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and not crucify self continually. 

All sacrifice at length, blossoms into Christlike beauty, sweetness and joy. 

“Take me, Lord, and use me today — as You will. I lay all my plans at Your feet. Whatever work You have for me to do — give it into my hands. If there are those You would have me help in any way — send them to me, or send me to them. Take my time — and use it just as You will.” 


J.R. Miller was a pastor and former editorial superintendent of the Presbyterian Board of Publication from 1880 to 1911. His works are now in the public domain. This passage is an edited version.