Throughout our lives, most of us will receive compliments from time to time on our behavior, our appearance, our work ethic, and many other things. We will forget many of these compliments, but we will remember many others through the years. The compliments we tend to remember come from those whom we most respect, but we usually forget compliments from those we don’t respect very much, who do not know us well, or who may not have our best interests at heart. Oftentimes, we forget these compliments because we sense insincerity behind them.
If we do not remember or embrace insincere compliments, how much more must the Lord look away from insincerity. In fact, Scripture tells us that God does much more than simply look away—He hates false honor. Our Creator looks for those who will worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23), and He is displeased with those who do not glorify Him with sincere motivations (Isa. 29:13–14).
Our worship is to be patterned after the example of Christ’s worship. Our Savior, being without sin (1 Peter 2:22), endeavored to please His Father every moment of His earthly life and ministry. Of course, we will fall short in attempting to do the same, but God is gracious, and He forgives all who repent of their sins and inadequacies in worship and rest in Christ. In fact, resting in Christ necessarily leads to worship, for worship is the only reasonable response to the grace of God we find in Christ Jesus. We discover this in today’s passage, which contains the first of the many responses that Paul describes as the consequence of God’s work in Christ. The transition “therefore” in Romans 12:1, following chapters 1–11, indicates that the most logical consequence of the gospel is to worship God in gratitude for our great salvation.
This “spiritual worship”—so called because the Lord is interested in the inner, spiritual motives of the heart—consists in our offering ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord. Note the conjoining of inward motivation and outward action. Worship may find its origin in the mind and heart, but that is not where it is exclusively expressed. Today, we do not offer animals as atoning sacrifices, but we offer our entire selves to God, not for atonement, but as sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise for our redemption. In giving Him all that we are, say, and do, we please our Creator.