To start the New Year right you must let go of any old grudges that are weighing you down. Philip Yancey describes forgiveness as an unnatural act and says, “You don’t find dolphins forgiving sharks for eating their playmates. It’s a dog-eat-dog world…not a dog-forgive-dog world.” Grudges come naturally when you’ve been hurt, whereas forgiving requires God’s enabling grace. Jesus said, “If you do not forgive…your Father will not forgive your sin” (Mt 6:15 NIV). Humanly speaking, there’s not one single reason God should forgive your sins, yet the offenses He pardons you for every day far outweigh anything you’ll ever be asked to forgive others for. By forgiving, you change the whole dynamic. You open the door of a prison where you are both prisoner and jailer, setting yourself and the other person free. Grudges not only isolate you from people who were once friends, they actually shorten your life by producing deadly enzymes that contribute to a host of physical ailments. One man told his counselor, “I wish my brother could come to my wedding, but we haven’t spoken in years.” The counselor asked, “How come?” Pausing, the man replied, “It sounds ridiculous now, but I don’t even remember.” Drifting apart is the natural result of an unforgiving spirit; forgiveness reverses the trend by restoring and healing broken relationships. It’s a medical fact that forgiveness adds years to your life. As a rule, when you talk to people who’ve passed the eighty-year mark you find they are at peace with themselves—because they’ve learned to forgive and let go.
Archive for December 31, 2011
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
Do our bodies really matter? Or are they just insignificant shells for our spirits? Does God care about what we do with our bodies? Romans 12:1-2 answers these questions by showing us how we might use our bodies to keep Christmas well.
Romans 12 examines some practical implications of the Gospel, which Paul meticulously considers in the first eleven chapters of Romans. These implications are a response to “all that [God] has done for you” (literally, to the “mercies” of God). The first step of the response is this: “[T]o give your bodies to God….Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him” (12:1). Notice the emphasis here on our bodies. We serve the Lord, not just in our hearts, not just in our thinking, not just in our feelings, but also and essentially in what we do with our bodies. Our bodies and what we do with them matter to God.
One way to talk about this is to say that our faith in Christ is to be lived incarnationally, that is, in the flesh of our bodies. The Incarnation of the Word of God is not only essential for our salvation. It also underscores the value of the human body as a vehicle for God’s activity in the world. The fact that the Word became flesh provides a theological foundation for the call in Romans 12:1 to give our bodies to God as “a living and holy sacrifice.” Christmas implies that what you do with your body matters to God. We worship God with our bodies, not only in the context of the gathering of the church for offering praise to God, but also in our daily lives.
Keeping Christmas well means recognizing that our bodies are instruments through which we honor God. It means taking seriously what we do each day because God takes it seriously as well. It means that all of our activity, at work and at home, in the community and in our churches, matters to God.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How might the connection between the Incarnation and your body impact the way you live? How might you use your body as a way of worshiping God today?
PRAYER: Gracious Lord, thank you for creating us as embodied creatures. Thank you for allowing us to serve you with our bodies. Thank you for reminding us of just how much our bodies matter through the Incarnation of the Word. You chose to become fully human, to take on a human body, because through bodies your will on earth is done.
Help me, Lord, to use my body for your service. May I learn to worship you in each moment of each day as I present my whole self before you as a living and holy sacrifice. Amen.
Let Us Draw Near Today
Today is our day. No one at any time has ever had any spiritual graces that we at this time cannot enjoy if we will meet the terms on which they are given. If these times are morally darker, they but provide a background against which we can shine the brighter. Our God is the God of today as well as of yesterday, and we may be sure that wherever our tomorrows may carry us, our faithful God will be with us as He was with Abraham and David and Paul. Those great men did not need us then, and we cannot have them with us now. Amen. So be it. And God be praised. We cannot have them, but we can have that which is infinitely better–we can have their God and Father, and we can have their Savior, and we can have the same blessed Holy Spirit that made them great.