A life of living sacrifice is a life lived in love (Romans 12:1, 9). The authentic life of love is not sentimentalism. Instead, it is manifested in intensely practical ways, beginning with hating evil and treasuring all that is good (Romans 12:9). In the body of Christ, we are called to express the kind of loving affection that exists between brothers and sisters (Romans 12:10).
Love is to be an active principle that extends itself for others. It is not mere tolerance. This kind of love is seen in the honor we show others by giving them preference over ourselves (Romans 12:10). Preferring others over ourselves is an act of self-sacrifice. When we surrender our own will and ego, we are following in the self-sacrificing footsteps of Jesus. How many relational problems would be solved if we preferred others over ourselves?
A life of living sacrifice touches on every part of our lives. It calls us to diligence and fervency as we serve Jesus (Romans 12:11). A life of living sacrifice calls on us to face trials with the tools of hope and prayer (Romans 12:12) and to care for others by extending hospitality to those in need (Romans 12:13). We embody the principles of living sacrifice when we embrace empathy and enter into the emotional experiences of others by weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15).
It is natural for people to want to spend time with those they find interesting and enjoyable. The life of living sacrifice calls us to avoid elevating ourselves and willingly associate with the humble (Romans 12:16). A life of living sacrifice reminds us that we should be humble and not regard our own opinions too highly. Instead, we should seek unity within the community (Romans 12:16).
A life of living sacrifice doesn’t only manifest itself within the church community. It is seen when we bless rather than curse our persecutors (Romans 12:14). It is seen when we refuse to return evil for evil but rather choose to be honorable (Romans 12:17). It is seen when we do all in our power to live at peace with others (Romans 12:18). Living lives of self-sacrificing love would provide, even to our persecutors, the best argument in favor of the gospel we believe and proclaim. “By the power of His grace manifested in the transformation of character the world is to be convinced that God has sent His Son as its Redeemer. No other influence that can surround the human soul has such power as the influence of an unselfish life. The strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian” (Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, 470).