Living Sacrifice

My Sunday posts are the most challenging ones for me to write because I’ve committed to “dig deep” and ask myself questions like:  What made me feel ‘full’ this week?  Why might I feel ‘empty’?  In what ways have I stumbled? How could I feel closer to God next week?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the challenge.  It’s just easier to write about the silly stuff of life because it’s superficial.  Sometimes I don’t like what I see when I look closely at myself.  Sometimes it makes me uncomfortable because I see how far from ‘all right’ I really am.  But this introspection is good.  It’s like I’m wandering in the darkness, and then a light illuminates the path – giving me a sense of direction.

I didn’t know what I was going to write about this week until I heard a scripture on the radio on my way to the post office on Saturday.  It was Romans 12:2:

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I scrambled to find my pocket notebook and pen so I could make a note to read this when I got home.  I knew without the written reminder, I would forget it!  My Study Bible had additional clarifying text that I found helpful:

Study Help:  How can we know God’s will?  By honoring and obeying him, and by refusing to be influenced by societal pressures.  As we replace our old way of thinking and adopt an entirely new perspective – from God’s point of view – we’ll begin to recognize God’s will more and more.  We’ll find it easier to hear his voice in a variety of situations….knowing God’s will results from doing his will as revealed in Scripture.

I love it when a verse is so relevant that it seems like it was written just for me.  I know, that sounds egocentric, but sometimes I feel so small in this world, it’s kind of nice to think that God prescribed something to be written specifically to help me.  At the same time, I recognize that this passage has also helped others for thousands of years….they probably thought it was written just for them, too!

Here’s how it fits in my life:  over the last few months, we’ve become friends with another couple.  We hike together almost every weekend and have gone out to dinner a couple times.  They don’t have children at home and I know their household income is a lot more than ours.  They’ve invited us to go to a few concerts and other activities – we’ve declined most invitations, partially because of the expense.

They don’t flaunt their money, or intentionally do things to make me feel inferior, but there can be pressure to keep up.  We see the TVs and gadgets they have, and it can be hard to come home to our 36-inch (deep) television set from the 1990’s.  My husband’s disappointment at our “don’t haves” and “can’t dos” makes it even more difficult.

What this scripture says to me is that I should continue to resist the pressure to spend, especially if the motivation is to “fit in” with our friends.  I look to God to remind me that I have enough, and that enough is more-than-enough.  I don’t want to forget that my happiness does not hinge on the size of my bank account, or the “things” in my house – or even my house itself.

I pray that God continues to work in me, so I remain strong in my desire to live my life as He would want.  Being a “living sacrifice” is not about the worldly things I give up, but the spiritual wealth I gain by trusting God as the guide of my life.

Have you struggled to resist social pressure?  What is the one thing in your life that stifles your happiness?  Do you think most about what you don’t have, or what you do have?

15 thoughts on “Living Sacrifice

    • jannatwrites January 8, 2012 / 9:09 PM

      Thanks, Carl…appreciate the encouragement. I just thought I’d write about this situation in case anyone else could relate.

  1. nrhatch January 8, 2012 / 9:13 AM

    I enjoy rejecting societal dictates . . . it’s a “reward” not a sacrifice. I enjoy not working so hard to buy STUFF I don’t need to impress people I don’t like. 😉

    I never want toys, gadgets, clothes, baubles, shoes, or handbags that others have because “they have them.”

    If I want something, it’s because I want it for MY USE not to “keep up with the Joneses.”

    The one thing in my life that stifles my happiness is my parents . . . and the increasing difficulties that they face as they age.

    And the lack of world peace robs me of happiness.
    And animal abuse.
    And child abuse.

    And lots of other global issues.

    • jannatwrites January 8, 2012 / 9:42 PM

      Somehow I’m not surprised that you don’t have a problem rejecting social pressure, Nancy! (That’s a good thing, of course.)

      I don’t want things just because someone else has them, either. But when friends have things that I want, it’s harder to resist. However, I have a friend who is into designer purses. I have never felt tempted to buy one, though!

      I can see how the changes involved with aging parents would negatively impact your happiness. I’m with you on the other issues, too – they don’t make me happy 😦

  2. Debbie January 8, 2012 / 3:16 PM

    Wasn’t it Lincoln who said, Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be? I try hard not to compare myself with others. Despite what the Bible tells us about all of us being created equal, there are always going to be people who have more than I do — more talents, more money, more things. I’ve found it better to be happy with the things and abilities I have, rather than hungering for what I don’t. It all will even out in the long run anyway — that’s a hard one to swallow, but swallow it we must if we’re going to follow His Way.

    • jannatwrites January 8, 2012 / 10:02 PM

      I don’t know if Lincoln said it or not, but I like it, Debbie. Life isn’t fair (or equal), and it never will be! I agree that our happiness depends on being able to focus on what we do have, even if it may seem like less if compared to others.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I appreciate it.

  3. pattisj January 8, 2012 / 3:23 PM

    It’s a good sign to not like what we see when we look deeply, keeps us from pride and reminds us we can’t change ourselves, but it’s God that makes all things new.
    Lately, I’ve been thinking about what I do have, how to get rid of some of it, and entertaining some new storage ideas.

    • jannatwrites January 8, 2012 / 10:05 PM

      It’s a relief that this is a good thing, Patti. I’ll see if I can not be so discouraged with my shortcomings.

      We’ve been working on lightening our load, too. Freeing ourselves from stuff has been liberating. God luck on your new storage ideas 🙂

  4. pattyabr January 8, 2012 / 7:19 PM

    Power elicited over another is pressure – peer, social and media – all stem from it. When people are vulnerable, sensitive,trusting and in-experienced about the world – pressure can be convincing. Outside pressure has happened to me in professional work settings, school settings as a parent and in parenting my children. It takes perseverance and faith in God to withstand the pressures of the world. It also helps to have a strong support system who has strong beliefs as you do to help you stay close to God. Stay strong.

  5. jannatwrites January 8, 2012 / 10:19 PM

    Thanks for your thoughtful, supportive comment, Patty. I hadn’t equated power with pressure, but it makes sense. My support system could be stronger, so I hope my prayers will get me through 🙂

  6. philosophermouseofthehedge January 10, 2012 / 6:23 PM

    Isn’t it amazing how scripture written so long ago is so applicable to everyday life even today?

    • jannatwrites January 10, 2012 / 8:49 PM

      It is amazing, Phil. With everything that’s changed over the last couple thousand years, not much has changed, in this respect!

  7. jeanne January 10, 2012 / 7:45 PM

    I just copied and pasted your verse and study notes to my facebook page…It is one of my favorites and it is worth sharing. Thank you for digging deeper and helping us to digg deeper with you.

    • jannatwrites January 10, 2012 / 8:55 PM

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Jeanne. This verse is sticking with me – I like it too!

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