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Romans 12:1-21
Living sacrifice 101
Shared June 18th, 2020; Updated June 18th, 2020
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Main point summary
Main point summary
Changing the way we think and becoming living sacrifices
Romans 12:1-21
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God
Therefore , brothers and sisters, surrender yourselves to God
because of all he has done for you.
because of what God has done for you out of His love and grace.
Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—
Let yourselves be a living and holy sacrifice-
the kind he will find acceptable.
in the way that God calls you to be.
This is truly the way to worship him.
This is the true way to worship God.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
Don't succumb to earthly standards and expectations,
but let God transform you into a new person
but let God change you to live new lives
by changing the way you think.
by changing your beliefs and mindsets to be like His.
Then you will learn to know God’s will for you,
Then you will learn to know God's plan and purpose for you,
which is good and pleasing and perfect.
which is perfect.
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me,
Because of the privilege and authority that God has given me,
I give each of you this warning:
this is a warning that all of us should take note of:
Don’t think you are better than you really are.
Don't overestimate yourselves or see yourselves as better than you really are.
Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves,
Put your pride aside and evaluate yourselves objectively,
measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
measure yourselves by God's standards and based off of your identity in Christ.
Just as our bodies have many parts
Just like how our bodies have many different parts
and each part has a special function,
and every part has a unique role and function,
so it is with Christ’s body.
it is the same with Christ's body, which is the church.
We are many parts of one body,
We are unique individuals in one church,
and we all belong to each other.
and we are all united as one.
In his grace,
In His love and grace,
God has given us different gifts
God has given us unique gifts
for doing certain things well.
to excel in certain aspects of life.
So if God has given you the ability to prophesy,
If you have the gift of prophesy,
speak out
with as much faith as God has given you.
in Jesus's name with faith.
If your gift is serving others,
If you have the gift of serving,
serve them well.
serve wholeheartedly.
If you are a teacher,
If you have the gift of teaching,
teach well.
teach to the best of your ability.
If your gift is to encourage others,
If you have the gift of encouragement,
be encouraging.
encourage the people around you.
If it is giving,
If you have the gift of giving,
give generously.
give cheerfully and without expectation.
If God has given you leadership ability,
If you have the gift of leadership,
take the responsibility seriously.
recognize your influence, lead others responsibly and don't abuse your authority.
And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others,
If you have the gift for loving others and showing kindness,
do it gladly.
love cheerfully and without expectation.
Don’t just pretend to love others.
Don't fake your love for the people you might not love.
Really love them.
Instead , love genuinely.
Hate what is wrong.
Hate what is not of God.
Hold tightly to what is good.
Keep close to you all that is of God.
Love each other
Love everybody
with genuine affection,
and take delight in honoring each other.
and find joy in respecting one another as God's creations.
Never be lazy,
Don't be lazy,
but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
but put in your best effort and serve God willingly and with fervour.
Rejoice in our confident hope.
Find joy in our constant hope which is Jesus.
Be patient in trouble,
Be patient when you meet with challenges,
and keep on praying.
and pray continually.
When God’s people are in need,
When any of your brothers or sisters need help,
be ready to help them.
be ready to provide help.
Always be eager to practice hospitality.
Always be cheerful and willing to help others.
Bless those who persecute you.
Be good to those who mistreat us or put us down.
Don’t curse them;
Don't wish judgement on them;
pray that God will bless them.
pray that God will be good to them.
Be happy with those who are happy,
Rejoice together with those who are rejoicing,
and weep with those who weep.
and try to empathize and understand the pain of those who are hurting.
Live in harmony with each other.
Live peacefully with everybody.
Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.
Don't let your pride keep you from interacting with certain people.
And don’t think you know it all!
And don't think you know everything!
Never pay back evil with more evil.
Don't do bad things just because others do evil unto you.
Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
Do things in a respectable way.
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Put in your best effort to live peacefully with everyone.
Dear friends, never take revenge.
Don't take justice into your own hands.
Leave that to the righteous anger of God.
Let God's fair and just anger deal with them.
For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge;
For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,” says the Lord .
I will pay them back," says the Lord,
Instead, “If your enemies are hungry,
As for you, if your enemies are hungry,
feed them.
feed them.
If they are thirsty,
If they are thirsty,
give them something to drink.
quench their thirst.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”
When you do this, they will feel shame for doing evil unto you.
Don’t let evil conquer you,
Don't succumb to evil and let it conquer you,
but conquer evil by doing good.
but overcome evil by doing what God tells us to do.
we do not deserve these gifts we received
Context In Romans, Paul talks about humanity falling into the hands of sin, the consequences of sin, and how through God's grace and Jesus's death saved us from the consequences of sin. He then proceeds to talk about the Jews being God's chosen people, how some of them did not believe and how salvation was extended to the Gentiles. He then warns the Romans about how they should not feel as if they are superior to the non-believing Jews just because they believed (Romans 11:18-20). Christians aren't saved through good works, but through the grace of God. This passage begins with "And so" (or "therefore" in NIV and NKJV), meaning that this passage is based off of the facts written in the previous chapters. Basically the beginning of the passage is saying: we now know that we are inherently sinful and it is not through our own good works but through God's grace that we are saved, HENCE these are the things that we should do to worship him. Devotions/my thoughts! This passage is like a list or guideline as to how we can be living sacrifices and truths that we should know to change the way we think. I like how Paul starts this passage by saying that we should become living sacrifices because of all God has done for us, then proceeds to tell us to let God transform us into a new person by changing the way we think, not the way we act. I think it's so important that before we do anything, we must align our mindsets and perceptions about certain aspects of life with God's. If we were start by changing our actions first, it probably wouldn't be sustainable because our hearts are not in the right place to begin with and that would taint our intentions. Our actions can also feel forced and eventually we would be burnt out easily. Imagine having the old mindset of taking justice into your own hands and believing in revenge, but you try to "feed your enemies when they are hungry". You'll only be suppressing anger and your brain can't comprehend why you're being kind to your enemy. When we change our mindset first, the actions come after naturally. Paul warns us about letting our pride cloud our evaluation of ourselves and see ourselves as better than we really are. It is important that we do not let pride cloud our judgement as it can cause us to act out of pride instead of love. And sometimes acting out of pride can hurt people and that's not loving at all :( However, this doesn't mean that we should constantly diminish our worth. It is also dangerous for us to have low self-esteem as it can prevent us from doing certain things that God calls us to do. In Exodus 4:10-16, God called Moses to speak to the Israelites, but Moses felt like he was not capable enough for the job. He kept questioning God and making excuses to get out of the mission that God has called him to do. Finally, God proposed for Moses's brother, Aaron, to takeover the mission of speaking to the Israelites instead. Because of Moses's low self-esteem, he wasn't able to trust God with his weaknesses and in the end, the mission that was supposed to be completed by Moses, ended up being completed by Aaron instead. It is important that we evaluate ourselves by God's standards, because we will never be enough if we do things on our own, but with God, we will always be able to conquer. We also need to be firm in our identity in Christ so that pride or low self-esteem will not be able to take away our ability to do what God has called us to do. We need to recognize that we all have different gifts, skills, abilities and purposes in the church. Not one person is able to do all prophesying and pastoring and teaching and encouraging and healing etc. That's soooo much responsibility placed on a person and it's gunna be so difficult to handle life. We shouldn't covet the gifts and skills that other people have, but instead be grateful for our own gifts and abilities and focus on using them for God to the best of our abilities. Everyone of us have different strengths and personalities and God gives us gifts according to our abilities and what He thinks we can handle. Matthew 25:15 says that the talents were given "each according to his ability". We should recognize that we are all different individuals with different purposes that God has designed for our lives. Instead of coveting what the other person has, focus on the personalized mission that God has seen us worthy to fulfill. That being said, I chose to use Action-Manner for verses 6-8 instead of Conditional because I felt like Paul was talking about the way that we should handle the gifts that are given to us. We can easily abuse these gifts and misuse them, but in the beginning of verse 6, Paul starts off by saying "In his grace". I think that this emphasizes on the fact that we are not entitled to these gifts, we do not deserve them and we are only given these gifts because of God's grace. It is only right that we use these gifts according to God's purpose instead of misusing them. In the parable of the loaned money (Matthew 25:14-30), the talents given to the servants are just like the gifts given to us. Just because we attained this gifts, it doesn't mean that we are masters of it. We are merely looking after these gifts because ultimately, these gifts still belong to God in the end. When Jesus comes back again, we have to give an account for what we have done with our gifts. Have we put them to good use, or did we just let it collect dust? In this part of the letter, Paul gives us a guideline on how we should be using our gifts. (Also pls watch the sermon by transformation church called Secure the bag Part 1 because it talks about the parable of the loaned money and I think it's really good hehe.) For me, the remaining parts of the letter is what spoke to me the most because the main point is about loving others. To me, love isn't a feeling, but it is a choice. Love is when the other person may have unappealing qualities, but you still choose to interact with them as equals. Love is when you have a fight or disagreement with somebody and you choose to make up and restore the relationship instead of letting the disagreement end the friendship. Love is when you choose the person over their actions, decisions, background or your own personal gain. With people, we can easily let others love us by only showing them the appealing sides of ourselves and hiding the bad sides. But with God, we cannot hide. That is what makes God's love so unfathomable and so great because He knows the deepest darkest parts of us yet He still chose us over our unholy thoughts and actions. He knows when we pick our nose, when we didn't shower for 5 days in a row, when we snuck an extra biscuit when mom tells us we can only eat 3, when we cursed to ourselves, when we had bad intentions when doing certain things, when we were being manipulative, basically every bad thing we have done, He knows it. Yet He still looks at us, says "It's okay, I love you, here's another chance for you to correct your mistakes". BUT WAIT did He stop there? Nooooo. He loves us so much, He decided to bless us with things that we don't deserve. Good grades, a good family, good friends, wealth, a nice house etc. More than just giving us material things, He gave us peace, hope, joy, the strength to go through difficult times, opportunities for personal growth, meet and greets aka personal encounters with the King himself, meaning to our lives and most of all, His Son to die for us and to carry the weight of the consequences of all our sins from the beginning to the end of time. I don't know about you but I cannot comprehend this love, sometimes I can't breathe when I think about this I'm not even joking man. Knowing this love that God has for me and everybody else, I would want to tell others about this amazing God and share this with the people around me because good things must share!! What better way to tell people about God's love than to show them how God loves! Though none of us will ever be able to show God's level of unconditional love, we can try our best with God's strength and guidance. Paul's letter gives us a guideline on how we can show love to not just our brothers and sisters in Christ, but to everybody including the non-believers among us. Loving others when they are nice to us is easy, loving strangers is even easier because we have nothing to lose with them. But what about loving the people who mistreat us or the people whom we know have extreme differing views? It is easy for us to feel superior towards non-believers or even believers who are not as spiritually mature and develop a "holier than thou" attitude because we feel like we know the Truth more than they do. Verse 16 however, tells us not to be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people, and don't overestimate our own knowledge. It is important that we humble ourselves and see that our knowledge of the Truth does not make us more important or significant in God's eyes. Believer or non-believer, God still loves each and everyone of us and sees our worth as His creation, not in terms of the things that we know or do. Knowing the Truth only means that we have the responsibility to guide the people around us towards God. We should use this knowledge to raise people up, not put them down, and we should be conscious about doing this from a place of humility. In John 13:14 , Jesus tells us to wash other's feet just as He has washed the disciples' feet. We don't condemn people of their ignorance and pour a bucket of water over their heads to cleanse them. Instead, we humble ourselves and wash their feet out of love for them. That being said, just because we have knowledge of the Truth, doesn't mean that there aren't lessons that we can learn from younger believers. Paul writes in Romans 1:12 that he hopes that him and the Christians in Rome will be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. We know Paul is a preacher and he is known to be very firm in his faith and to have a very close relationship with God, yet he writes this humbling statement to the Christians in Rome. God encounters all of us in different ways and we all learn different lessons through our life experiences. We may be more spiritually connected than other people, but it doesn't mean that we have learnt everything that there is to learn, and younger believers can teach us things that even we don't know! It is normal for us to feel anger when people do evil unto us, and it is natural that we want people to pay for what they have done. But if we take revenge or lash out our anger onto the people around us, that just makes two sinners guilty of doing evil. God is a fair God, and He sees the evil being done and He will issue a fair and just punishment. Only a God with a pure heart and no sin can do that. Our duty as Christians is not to let others see their wrongdoing and to teach them a lesson. Our duty is to love God, love others and make disciples of all nations. When we show love to those who do evil unto us, it is an unnatural response and they would naturally feel shame for being mean, as said in verse 20. But making them feel shame shouldn't be our intention of showing love to them, because that's not even love at all. Our love should be genuine. Them feeling shame is just a result of us showing love, it shouldn't be our motivation. When we show love even when people do wrong unto us, it goes against all our natural instincts and people can see that. On one hand they may think you're crazy and easy to bully and you're being too nice, but on the other hand, they may be able to see a glimpse of God's unconditional love through our actions. Love them, even when they may not see that they are in the wrong, even when you didn't get the apology you deserved. It may be difficult, but with God's strength and help, we will be able to do it. By learning how to love others in bad circumstances, it also helps us to see how much more amazing God's love is since He loved us through all circumstances. I know this is quite long ahhhh SORRYY I just really love this passage haha!! BUT TLDR, God has done so much for us and the true way to worship him is to become living sacrifices. How do we become living sacrifices? Change your mindset to align with God's principles, humble yourselves, recognize that we all have different gifts and purposes, use your own gifts to the best of your abilities and do it for God, and love others, even when they're not lovable. If you've come this far and read through everything, you're the real mvp and i love you :D <3
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.