I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:1-2.
We are fortunate in the USA to have so many dedicated self-sacrificing health professionals. Whenever I am around them, I marvel at their dedication and the number of hours that they work each week. Every day while I was hospitalized the doctor made it back by to see how his patient was doing even on the weekend and even on a holiday. Most days his nurse practitioner would be by as well to keep up with my progress. One evening we had waited until 10pm and the doctor had not yet come by. My wife decided she would go to the waiting room down the hall and find something to eat. Dr. Zuerker saw her leaving and joked, “You gave up on me didn’t you?”
We talked with two older nurses that shared they had been working as nurses for forty years. After having experienced their care and level of expertise, I could only be amazed that they were still working and not talking of retirement. A much younger nurse said at the mention of the older nurses having forty years of service, “forty years?” “Forty years?” “I can’t do this for forty years, it’s too hard.” I know I couldn’t do it for forty years either because it seemed to be an extremely difficult way to make a living.
What made the difference between the older nurses and the younger nurses? They did not say but reading between the lines it appears to be a sense of calling along with a desire to serve – a sense of self-sacrifice. The two older nurses had an understanding of sacrifice because to still be working in such a difficult profession they would have needed to make many sacrifices.
This sacrifice of our lives is what the apostle Paul was speaking of in Romans 12:1. Of course, we will face periods of discouragement even when we love our career or profession. Paul was using it in terms of living our lives as children of God. I like that the apostle uses the term “reasonable.” It is only reasonable that we experience some sacrifices in living the Christian life because – we have the example of our Lord giving the greatest sacrifice of all.
Whenever we feel discouraged in our careers or professions I believe it would help us to remember that our entire lives should be lived out in sacrifice to our Lord. Our lives should be “living,” “holy,” and “acceptable” – uncomformed (Romans 12:2a) to this world. Our lives should be a living sacrifice to the extent that it causes others looking at our lives to pause and marvel at our level of dedication and service. In the marveling there should be something that will indicate that we belong to God and this is the reason for our sacrifice bringing glory to Him (Matthew 5:16).
I do not know whether the two older nurses were Christians but I pray that they are – they appeared to be Christians in the way they were living their lives. If they had mentioned their faith in Christ, I would have readily understood their sacrifice. Let us always be willing not only to live our faith out through our sacrifices but also through our verbal testimony whenever and wherever we may have the opportunity (I am preaching to myself again!). The apostle also wrote in the book of Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (Romans 1:16).”
(The difference between a job and a calling. Why many live sacrificial lives.)