A hen and a pig were talking in the barnyard one day. The hen was so proud and talking on and on about how glad she was that she and the pig helped the farmer and his family by supplying them with ham and eggs for their breakfast. The pig, however, was less enthusiasic about it. He replied, "That's easy for you to say. For you it's just a donation. For me it's a total commitment."
Romans 12:1 tells us:
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship."
Here the apostle Paul is telling us to dedicate our lives to God. He uses the word "bodies" in the verse to represent the complete person, not just the physical body. What he is telling us is to present our lives to God with a commitment to live for Him.
Some Christians make this commitment when they accept Christ as Savior. They not only believe in Him for salvation, but also commit their lives to Christ. For others, this comes at a time after they are saved. After a period of growth, they realize they should live more fully for Christ and therefore dedicate their lives to Him. This act of dedication is the same as accepting the Lordship of Christ over your life. This rules out what is sometimes called "Lordship salvation" meaning you have to accept Christ as Lord in order to be saved. It is true that Christ is Lord whether or not a person acknowledges this. But to surrender to the Lordship of Christ in your life is something else. Notice that in this verse, Paul calls the people he is writing to "brothers". This shows that they are Christian believers. Yet the very fact that he is telling them to present their bodies (i.e. "lives") to God shows that at least some of them have not yet done that.
Some Christians never come to the place of dedicating their lives to God. They accept Christ as Savior, but do not really live for Him. God continues to work in these believers's lives to bring about growth, but it is not as much as would be possible if they committed their lives to God and worked with Him to grow spiritually. If you really want to grow as a Christian, dedicating your life to Christ is essential.
What About Re-dedication?
What about people who dedicate their lives at some point, live for God for a while, and then backslide? Do you "re-dedicate" your life? The answer is, no. The word "offer" in the above verse (translated "present" in some translations) is in a verb tense which signifies an action which happens at a particular point in time with the results continuing into the future. In the original Greek in which the Bible was written this is called the Aorist tense. It is a once-for-all time dedication. If you backslide, that does not undo the commitment you made to God. What you do is simply confess (acknowledge) your backsliding and pick up where you left off. Just start living for Christ again.
Comparison of Spiritual Growth
The charts below demonstrate the spiritual growth patterns of a dedicated and undedicated life. The ups and downs of the Christian life are illustrated in both charts, but in the undedicated life, you can see there is less overall growth. The dedicated life has its ups and downs too, but as you can see there is an upward trend for overall spiritual growth over the lifetime of the dedicated believer.
If you really want to grow as a Christian and be able to weather the storms of life more successfully, dedication of your life to God is the starting point.
There is also a daily dedication we should perform each day. This is encouraged in Romans chapter 6:11-13 where it tells us to offer ourselves to God. By yielding daily, we insure our success in living the Christian life more abundantly and grow more consistently.
Some People Are Afraid of God's Will
Some people are afraid to dedicate their lives to God because they are afraid God might ask them to do something they don't want to do. John McArthur uses a funny illustration. He says some people think God wants to take robust football players, break their legs and make them play a flute. Remember though, that God is a loving father. If you are a parent, would you want to make your child's life miserable by making them do something they hated just for the fun of it? Of course not. Whatever you ask them to do would be for their benefit, right? God also wants us to be happy and at peace. He has given you certain abilities and desires. He would not have given these to you if He did not want you to use them. Rest assured that if God asks you to do something, He will give you the ability to do it.
God's Will Is Good, Pleasing, and Perfect
Romans 12:2b says,"Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- his good, pleasing, and perfect will." This verse tells us that whatever God's will is for our lives, it will be good, pleasing, and perfect for us. Christ said we would have tribulations in this life. That fact is inescapable. However, He also gives us the strength and grace to endure them. There will be times when God asks you to do something which is hard, but you can be certain, He will give you the ability to do it and be right there helping you. Generally speaking, however, by following God's will, you will not only live a life which is pleasing to Him, but also be doing things you will be content with doing. If God has given you the desire to be a truck driver and the ability, then that is probably what you should be doing unless He shows you something else. God places desires in us to do the things he wants us to do if we are surrendered to Him. If you don't enjoy your job, then chances are you are probably not doing what God wants you to do in the first place. In that case, you are either not pursuing what you would like to do, or God has you in a holding pattern until some other things are worked out in your life. I found this to be true in my own life many times. After my first divorce in my twenties, it was 14 years before I finally found my present wife. As I look back now, I can see there were some changes I had to make before God could lead me and Carol together. And boy, oh boy, was it worth the wait. I never in my wildest dreams imagined there could be a woman so perfectly matched for me. So remember, God's will is not something to be afraid of. Just make the commitment to Christ and keep plugging away as He leads you each day. At the end you will be able to look back with satisfaction and a sense of contentment and fulfillment about your life.