Romans 12: 1-3. These verses are so foundational to true Christian faith and life!
“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.”
Paul is basically saying that now that we know all that God has done for us by His mercy and grace, it is reasonable that we should serve and honor Him. We should no longer conform to the world and its ways, but rather be changed in our minds to new ideals and attitudes that result in living in God’s ways. We are to prove to ourselves what are the good, acceptable, right, ways of God. And we are not to have an exaggerated opinion of our importance or live in pride. We are part of the whole family of God. We need to find our part by rating our ability with sober judgement based on teh level of faith currently portioned by God. Rejoice to be able too serve on even the small things. I believe faith increases when it is exercised, just like physical muscle growth. With patience, perseverance, and exercise, the portion of faith from God can grow into more difficult levels of service. Remember that with God the higher is brought down to seve and lift up the lower. Consider reality….the parent is higher than the child, but in truth it is mostly the good parent who serves and lifts up the child.
Does that give you a better understandning of how a follower of Jesus, a child of God, should live?
Romans 12: 4-21.
Verses 1-3 give general instructions on the new ways a christian should live. In these verses, Paul gets specific.
Verses 4-5, we are many memebers of one family, like many parts of one body…so work together and understand we may have different functions.
Verses 5-8, understand that we are mutually dependent on each other…so help each other. God’s grace will give you the gift or talent you need for the service He calls you to….whether in speaking out His Word of the gospel (which is His prophecy and does not mean future telling), practical serving, teaching, exhorting, charitable giving and sharing, giving aid and mercy and help, superintending group efforts, all for one another……with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagernes!
Verse 9a and 10, your love for one another should be the real thing…sincere….like true affection between brothers and sisters.
Verse 9b, loathe all ungodliness and turn away in horror from wickedness
Verse 11, always have zeal and earnestly endeavor to be aglow with the Holy Spirit in serving the Lord
Verse 12, rejoice and exalt in hope, even when suffering or in tribulations continue in steadfast patience and endurance…staying constant in prayer.
Verse 13, if the saints require help with necessities, then share….and also be hospitable towards one another.
Verse 14, bless those who are critical towards you in their attitude or speech, do not curse them.
Verse 15, share in one another’s joy and in one another’s grief…be supportive.
Verse 16, live in harmony and peace with one another…..not haughty, high minded, or wanting your way. Rather humble your “self” and serve one another. Don’t be conceited and think you are always right or better.
Verse 17, do not repay evil for evil. Rather determine from this what is right and honest and determine to live your life that right way…therefore striving to live above the reproach or offense of others.
Verse 18-20, have peace in your heart towards eveeryone, even if they do not have peace in their heart towards you. You can choose to not receive their attitude. Vengence is God’s and He will bring just judgement. So, even if your enemy is hungry or thirsty, give them food and drink…and leave the consequences to God.
Verse 21, do not let yourself become overcome with evil. Rather you can choose to overcome evil by thinking and doing good. God will back you up!
Now do this…go through the list again and notice that these specifics are exactly what a parent wants to teach and train their children! God’s Word is real and practical! (my list in the next section)
Another application….go through this list and determine if the church you attend is operating this way with one another. I think sometimes we expect the world and government should be doing these things for people instead of coming together as the family of God in our churches. It is more important for us to be and do this with our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ first….and then move out into the world as enabled by God.
As I said, God wants His family to love each other and get along just like good human parents do. The Bible fits reality and is so practical. Here is my short list of comparisons….
Really love each other; hate what is bad; do what is good; try your best to joyfuly do what you think God says is right; even when things get tough, keep praying and know that God and your parents and family are always here with you to bring hope and joy; share especially when your siblings need help; support each other in times of joy and sorrow; if you are criticized or picked on by your siblings, do not curse them; learn from that and determine not to do that to others; do not repay evil for evil, let the father deal with judgement; live peacefully with each other…no fighting; do not think you are better than or higher than the others…but humble yourself to do some of the lesser tasks; do not insist you get your own way all the time; do not be companions with evil or let evil ways overcome you….keep living in good and that will work to overcome evil…and bring good consequences to your life.
God’s Word is Truth!