Saturday, April 14, 2012

Romans 12:1-8 Humility, unity and diversity

Romans 12

Attitudes of Service

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

[By this time Paul has fully explained how God has enlisted us in His plan for the redemption of mankind. For the elect, the church, love and good works are to be our calling to card to the lost world. Now if we have been willing recipients of the grace of God through faith, then that same faith is to form the basis for a redeemed life.

Jesus said "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Even back in Romans 2 speaking of the judgment of God, Paul promises that God will render to each of us according to how faith is applied to our earthly lives.

"eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality" v.7

"glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good" v.10

The clear message in all of these is that given time, the spiritual rebirth of salvation will be evident in the physical lives of Christ's redeemed. Just as true repentance produces faith, true faith will produce the fruit of righteousness. So we know that God will not be fooled by a false profession that produces no spiritual fruit.

"if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness,if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off." (Romans 11:21-22)

Now in Chapter 12 he will lay out the framework for service, which he calls the reasonable or rational response to receiving the mercy of God. Some translations render "reasonable service" as "spiritual worship", so let us look at service as a form of worship.]

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

[The first step to service that is an acceptable form of worship is renewal. Just as the natural man did not keep the Law, our natural minds must be renewed for an effective Christian life. This mental transformation from a temporary fleshly focus, to an eternal spiritual focus enables us to "test" or prove the will of God in our lives. Renewal is begun in the repentance that leads to salvation, and continues throughout our journey of sanctification. This what you read, listen to and study, literally what is your daily meditation. The rest of this passage will explain certain necessary attitudes this renewal will produce.]

3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

[The first attitude of service is humility. Even your faith is a gift of God, so in the church human pride will be the first of our fleshly attitudes to be destroyed. Human pride is deadly to the spiritual health of a church; everything done here should be for God's glory not mine, and not yours. Be careful not to think too highly of yourself, remember the path you were on before God rescued you.]

4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

[The second attitude of service is unity. We are different people but one body in Christ. Of all the things that divide us in society (race, wealth, culture, politics) our unity in Christ Jesus, one faith, one baptism, should be stronger. The church is the assembly of the elect; what should be obvious in that is that we are supposed to assemble, to gather, for worship and for service. Don't be afraid to share the life of faith with people you perceive as different, because what God has done for each of us is the same. While the grace of God may have found you in a different place than it found me, the transformation and the destination is the same for all of God's redeemed.]

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

[The final attitude of service is diversity. I can't do every task in the church, nor am I supposed to. God equips each of us for service according to His purpose. Just because your gift or ministry is different from mine, does not make it less valuable. All are necessary, to the church, and all gifts should be used by the church and for God's glory. Some are preachers, others teachers, others gifted in one-to-one personal ministry, still others in giving liberally, or leadership and organization, even those who just encourage and restore all the broken people who come here looking for a change. What a beautiful endowment we have from God in the diversity of gifts and callings among all of God's people. I can't do every ministry, but I can pray for and support every ministry and every minister as valuable, worthy and important in the church.

This is our reasonable service to God; to seek the renewal of our minds in the essential attitudes of service: Humility, unity, and diversity. And when we serve God according to His calling with these attitudes we bring glory to God and His church.]

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