I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…
Ellerthorpe, the hero of the Humber, who had rescued many from drowning, was at his duty on board ship, when a cry was raised, "A child overboard!" In an instant he was in the sea, and soon both were again on deck. Next day the mother took the child up to the brave man and said, "This is the gentleman who saved you from the sea; what are you going to give him?" For a moment the child was speechless, not knowing what to answer. But suddenly she put out her hands and said, "If you please, I have nothing else, but I will give you a kiss." The rough sailor had received many valuable presents, but he declared that the child's kiss was more to him than all beside. Why? Because she had given all she had — her love. Such is what Paul here asks for God. Note —
I. PAUL'S EARNESTNESS. "I beseech." He was a man in earnest, and nothing quenched his zeal; and this one man's zeal sufficed to carry the standard of the Cross in all directions. It is the earnest man who wins, as is shown in the cases of Luther and Wesley. Rowland Hill once said, "Because I am in earnest men call me an enthusiast. When I first came into this part of the country I saw a gravel pit fall in and bury three human beings. I lifted up my voice for help so loud that I was heard in the town near a mile away. Help came and rescued two of the sufferers. No one called me an enthusiast then; and when I see eternal destruction fail upon poor sinners and call aloud on them to escape, shall I be called an enthusiast now? "There was much force in the suggestion of a Scotchman when they were discussing where to put the new stove in the church. "You had better put it in the pulpit," said he, "for it is awful cold up there." Yes, put fire in the pulpit, but the best way of getting it there is to have plenty of it in the pews. Consecrated earnestness is needed in Church and Sunday-school work and by seeking sinners.
II. OUR DUTY TO GOD. We have been so busy in talking about saving souls that we have left no time to think about the body. Christ had but little to say about souls, but much about bodies. It is not without meaning that Paul says, "Present your bodies." This sacrifice must be —
1. Personal. "You," "ye," "your." We may transact business by proxy, but religion is a personal matter. Earnest efforts may bring blessings upon others, but a man must repent and believe for himself. A teacher cannot save his class, nor a minister his congregation, nor a mother her child.
2. Voluntary. Present yourselves. There is no compulsion. Christ made whips and drove out the buyers and sellers from the temple, but He has not made scourges to drive them in. The driving business has made many hypocrites, but never a saint. Christ knocks at the door, but the door has to be opened from within.
3. Living. God wants no dead or formal offering, but real living service. I would give Him the best buildings, singers, preachers, but unless we give Him living service all else is but the painted flower. A road surveyor, who was just finishing the levelling and paving of a long stretch of street, asked me in an enthusiastic tone if I did not think it splendid. "You see," he added, "I am trying to put my Christianity into the streets I make." That is just it. Drive your engines, make your coats and boots and chairs for Christ.
III. THE ARGUMENT BY WHICH PAUL ENFORCES ALL THIS — a threefold cord which cannot be broken.
1. "By the mercies of God."
2. That God will accept us. Without this encouragement we might expect to be rejected, for we are rebels.
3. It is our reasonable service.
(C. Leach, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.