What you do with your body affects how you feel and what you believe. When we talk about the body, we are talking about this flesh suit that gives us the right to function in this world. When this body dies, you leave the earth. The real you goes on to heaven. Your body will die, be buried, and decay, but the real you will live forever. The heart of this chapter is this: The real you can control your body and affect your emotions.
When it comes to any behavior—positive or negative—you have a tendency to surrender to what your body wants to do. You have a tendency to surrender your feelings. This is not what the Bible tells us to do. Romans 12:1-12 tells us to “present” our bodies as living sacrifices to God. Present literally means to stand as a third person to offer your body to God. Presenting your body means that you yield all your physiological feeling sand behaviors to Him.
Most of us are willing to do this as long as the things we need to present are as lightweight as a driver’s license. For example, we may graciously overlook a clerk’s rude behavior at the checkout counter, smile even though we are irritated, and walk away without doing him or her any physical harm. We have just presented our body and made it do something we did not feel like doing. But this example is a lightweight thing.
To present our bodies the way the Romans passage describes, we are going to find that sometimes we have to drag ourselves by the arm across the floor! We have to forcefully make ourselves do what we do not feel like doing. What does presenting your body have to do with change? Everything! If you change what you do with your body, you will change the way you feel.
Notice that the first verse of Romans 12 tells us to present our bodies as living sacrifices. This phrase means we need to make our bodies available. We are making our bodies available to something right now. Some people try to change how they feel by eating, by smoking, or by drinking. I used to wonder about the term Happy Hour. This term is used because what you do with your behavior (eating and drinking) will change the way you feel (make you happy).
Let us say, for example, that your spouse made you angry before you left the house. Most of us will automatically present our bodies to our emotions. We will yield to the anger we feel by slamming the door on the way out, revving the engine of the car, and squealing its tires as we lave. When some poor, innocent soul pulls out in front of us, we will scowl. We are presenting our bodies to anger.
I was at a local mall once when I saw a man so angry that he backed up at forty miles per hour in the parking lot. He was going so fast that the sheriff who saw him arrested him. I could tell by what the man did with his body that he was obviously angry.
Presenting your body means taking your negative, emotional reactions to life and yielding them to God by refusing to let your body act them out. You feel angry, but you refuse to let your body act angry. You make yourself smile; you purposefully put a little bounce in your step. You don’t feel like doing so, but you do it anyway. The physical presentation of your body in this manner will actually soothe your angry emotions. “Hey, wait a minute,” you may say. “That’s not the way I really feel. That’s just not the real me.”
You’re right; it’s not the real you. It is your emotional resistance, and it will probably be the greatest hindrance to change.
We say, “Well, I’m not happy, so I’m not going to act happy.” Who said your feelings were a perfect representation of the real you anyway? Who told you to surrender to your feelings?
One of the greatest hindrances to change in your life is emotional resistance. Your feelings do not like change. They accuse you of not being honest when you try to do something by faith. But that is exactly what presenting your body to God is about—faking it until you make it. It is submitting to the truth, regardless of how you may feel at the moment.
[tweetthis display_mode=”box”] It is submitting to the truth, regardless of how you may feel at the moment.[/tweetthis]
Does the Bible not say that the “joy of the Lord is your strength”? Then what is wrong with acting like it is true? If you are angry, start smiling. Start singing. Start dancing. You will find that the passage is true: the joy of the Lord is your strength. Joy will rise from the depths of your spirit and actually change your current emotionally agitated state.
Presenting your body includes what you do with your posture, your facial expressions, your tonal patterns, your body language–anything that you can do physically. Controlling those things is not as easy as it sounds! As a matter of fact, controlling them is usually a challenge. Most of us are very entrenched in habitual responses and behaviors.
I was talking to a friend on the phone once when he asked, “Billy, are you okay?”
I said, “I’m wonderful. Why?”
He said, “Well, you don’t sound wonderful. I’ve noticed that your voice goes down about four octaves when you are discouraged.”
I started trying to change the pitch of my voice when I talked to him. When I started changing it, guess what? I actually started feeling better.
You can change how you feel by simply making your body do the right things. Paul tells us in Corinthians 9:27, “I buffet my body.” When you start to do something new with your body, it doesn’t feel right. It may even feel as if you are faking it. But if you keep doing the right things—acting as if you are happy or well—you will actually begin to feel that way.
Paul tells us that presenting our bodies like this is just our “reasonable service.” He understood the way God created us, and he said it was reasonable that we act this way. When our children were young, we told them, “If you’re happy, you need to let your face know it.” That is reasonable, is it not? It is just as reasonable for Christians to have a little leap in their walk. It is just as reasonable to have a smile on your face. There is nothing fake about it; it is just your reasonable service! Most people today are victims of their feelings. Their feelings run (and sometimes ruin) their entire lives.
I am telling you today to rise above being a victim. Rise above those emotions that are keeping you bound and hindered. Feelings tend to be fickle, little creatures. Most of the time they have little rhyme or reason. What delights you one day may frustrate or bore you the next week. So why worry about the constant fluctuations in your internal emotional state? Start with the outside and begin presenting your body. Start with the things you can change.
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