February 12 - Romans 12:1-8

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Romans 12:1-8 – A Living Sacrifice

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. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

In response to the gift of salvation, Paul tells Christians that they (we) must respond with everything they have. A Christian should hold nothing back, the entirety of life is to be lived in service to Him. We must respond to God's gift of salvation and the only proper way to do so is with everything that we are.

Since we no longer practice sacrificial offerings, Paul's words have less impact on us now than they did on first century Christians. They knew the scents that surrounded the sacrifice of an animal. They watched as its blood poured out on the altar and as it was burned in offering. Paul wasn't making a light comment here, he was striking to the very visceral part of their being. No one would want to go through what had been required to worship whatever deity they believed in, but he told them they were to be a living sacrifice.

For Jews, sacrifices offered a covering of sin, an opportunity for righteousness.  Paul tells them that their entire beings are to be that living sacrifice, righteous before God, in all that they do.

He then contrasts the beauty of the sacrifice we are to offer to God with the negative aspect of what the world demands of us. Rather than living according to the world, we are to understand the will of God and become transformed so that we can live in accordance with that will.

Following our response to God as Christians, Paul then turns the discussion to a Christian's response toward other Christians. We are never to become arrogant in our belief. Humility is the first mark of a Christian. Each person within the Church has a gift and each of these gifts is different. But each of these gifts comes as a measure of faith that God has given. They are not possible without faith.  As long as we see that God is the only provider of the gifts we are given to exercise and that we are completely dependent on him for these gifts, we will act in true humility.

If we remember that all gifts come from God, that faith comes from God and that grace comes from God and that there is nothing we can do to earn more or less of any of these things, Romans 12:6 will make sense.  God gives different gifts according to the grace given to us. There is no lesser or greater gift when it comes from God. He gives according to His will. Our only task is to receive and respond.