A Living Sacrifice to God
12 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”
says the Lord.
“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
burning coals of shame on their heads.”
21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
This chapter takes us in a completely different direction. Up until now, Paul has been focused on some big and deep subjects, sometimes even tough to follow and understand. It feels completely opposite today. Paul very clearly explains how execute this new relationship with Christ they now found themselves in by starting with a command for all of us. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Many bible translations say ” be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Paul continues by breaking down what this looks like.
First, he says don’t think higher of yourself than you really are. Be honest with yourself and where you are at. In the world, everyone wants a position of privilege and power, but Paul says each of us plays a key role in the body of Christ. Basically, I think Paul is saying figure out what strengths God gave you and use those. Don’t seek after a ‘higher’ position or envy the abilities of others. In my own life, I can get very envious of those who are so incredibly gifted musically, but it’s quite clear that is not what God intended for me. Each of us is critical in our abilities if the kingdom of God is to be grown.
Once we have evaluated ourselves, Paul again breaks it down even further, and it becomes actually quite simple.
If you are an encourager, then encourage. If you are one who likes to serve, then serve. If you’re a teacher, then teach. And do it with love for others. Do this because God has called us to love everyone, even those who are not so nice to you. My challenge is this today, are we honest with ourselves in what our strengths are? Do we envy, and therefore strive after something that is not our strength? Love others with whatever talents God has given you. Typically these are the things you enjoy and do naturally already. People more than ever during this period of isolation need love from others, are we doing our part? And are we doing this with and urgency and a passion?
Lord, you instruction is quite clear. You gave us all different abilities and interests so that we could use them to further your kingdom. Help us today to be honest with ourselves and that you would make clear to us how we can use these in the best way to reach out to others. Give us a new love for our neighbors and an urgency in our hearts to show the love of God to each one. Thank you for this incredibly beautiful day, in Jesus name, amen.