The 30+ year thorn in C.S. Lewis’s side

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)

Before heading off to WWI, C.S. Lewis made a pact with his friend, Paddy Moore: If either were to die on their respective battlefields, the survivor would look after the deceased’s families.

Shortly thereafter, Paddy died; and after being discharged on account of a war injury of his own, Lewis made good on his promise and moved in with Paddy’s sister and mother.

At first, the Lewis/Moore household was a happy one. But over time, Mrs. Moore became a thorn in Lewis’s side. According to one Lewis biographer, “He would be writing or studying in his room when he would suddenly hear a terrible crash from somewhere downstairs and a plaintive cry from Mrs. Moore. In great anxiety, he would run down to find that she had tripped over something and was not in the least hurt but very ‘shaken.’ [Lewis] would bustle about setting all to rights again and then return to his work, only to be summoned again ten minutes later to go out and buy something or to perform some other minor and largely unnecessary task.”

Life went on like this for more than thirty years, and yet, according to multiple Lewis biographers, “no breath of complaint” was ever uttered by Lewis against Mrs. Moore. 

Why? Because according to Lewis, true “happiness…lies in the path of duty” to God. And what is that duty? Paul answers that question in today’s passage: “in view of God’s mercy…offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.” 

C.S. Lewis modeled this command exceptionally well in two ways. The first we’ve already seen. While Lewis was intensely serious about his work, he recognized that people are just as much “the work” we’re called to as are the tasks on our to-do lists. And so he sacrificed his productivity without complaint.

Second, Lewis was sacrificial with his money. According to one Lewis biographer, “he would gladly give to anyone who asked,” which is all the more extraordinary considering that Lewis remained “convinced of his own poverty” until the day he died.

C.S. Lewis understood that because Jesus was a dying sacrifice, you and I are free to be a living one. Go sacrifice greatly for the glory of God and the good of those you work with today!


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