Living Sacrifice: Its MotiveRomans 12:1-2Theme: God’s mercy.This week’s lessons teach us the nature of God’s mercy and grace to us in Christ Jesus. LessonWhat is it that motivates people to achieve all they are capable of achieving or to “be all that you can be,” as the Army recruitment ads have it? There are a number of answers.
One way to motivate people is to challenge them. Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, tells of a mill manager whose workers were not producing. The owner was named Charles Schwab, and he asked the manager what was wrong.
“I have no idea,” he said. “I’ve coaxed the men; I’ve pushed them; I’ve sworn and cussed; I’ve threatened them with damnation and being fired. Nothing works. They just won’t produce.”
“How many heats did your shift make today?” Schwab asked.
Without saying anything else, Schwab picked up a piece of chalk and wrote a big number “6” on the floor. Then he walked away.
When the night shift came in they saw the “6” and asked what it meant. “The big boss was here today,” someone said. “He asked how many heats the day shift made, and we told him six. He chalked it on the floor.”
The next morning Schwab walked through the mill again. The night shift had rubbed out the “6” and replaced it with an even bigger “7.” When the day shift reported the next day they saw the “7.” So the night shift thought it was better than the day shift, did it? They’d show them. They pitched in furiously, and before they had left that evening they had rubbed out the “7” and replaced it with a “10.” Schwab had increased production sixty-six percent in just twenty-four hours simply by throwing down a challenge.1
Napoleon, the French general, said that men are moved by trinkets. He was referring to medals, and he meant that soldiers would risk even death for recognition.
Winston Churchill, the great British statesman and prime minister during the hard days of the Second World War, motivated the British people by his vision of victory and by brilliant speeches. We can remember some of his words today: “…Blood, toil, tears and sweat”; “…Victory – victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror; victory however long and hard the road may be”; “This was their finest hour.”
This week I’ll examine what our motivations for godly living are – as well as what they should be. What is it that motivates Christians to live a Christian life? Or to use Paul’s language in Romans 12:1, what is it that motivates them “to offer [their] bodies as living sacrifices… to God”?
If you and I were as rational as we think we are and sometimes claim to be, we would not need any encouragement to offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices because it would be the most reasonable thing in the world for us to do. God is our Creator. He has redeemed us from sin by the death of Jesus Christ. He has made us alive in Christ. He loves us and cares for us. It is reasonable to love God and serve him in return. But we are not as rational as that and do need urging, which is why Paul writes as he does in Romans 12. In verse 1 Paul urges us to offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices, and the motivation he provides is “God’s mercy”: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship.”
1 Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1963), pp. 173-176.
Why is it utterly reasonable to offer ourselves in sacrifice to God’s service?
ReflectionFor whom or what are you living? What motivates you in that direction?