What 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.

The final word Paul uses to describe how we should present our bodies to God as living sacrifices is "pleasing." But this is also a conclusion for what I have been saying this week since the point is that if we do what Paul has urged us to do – namely, to offer our "bodies as living sacrifices, holy...to God" – then we will also find that what we have done is pleasing (or acceptable) to him.

Paul uses the word "holy" to indicate the nature of the sacrifices we are to offer God. Any sacrifice must be holy. That is, it must be without spot or blemish and be consecrated entirely to God. Anything less is an insult to the great and holy God we serve. But how much more must we be holy who have been purchased "not with perishable things such as silver and gold... but with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Peter wrote, "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ " (1 Pet. 1:15-16). The author of Hebrews said, "...without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14).

Another thing we need to see about the nature of the sacrifice God requires is that it involves the giving to God of our bodies. Some of the older commentators stress that offering our bodies really means offering ourselves, all we are. Calvin wrote, "By bodies he means not only our skin and bones, but the totality of which we are composed."1 But although it is true that we are to offer God all we are, most commentators today rightly refuse to pass over the word "bodies" quite this easily. It is because they recognize how much the Bible stresses the importance of our bodies.

What exactly is meant by "sacrifice"? How are we to do it? The first point is the obvious one. The sacrifice is to be a living sacrifice rather than a dead one. This was quite a novel idea in Paul’s day, of course, though we have lost this by becoming overly familiar with it.