Today’s Reading: Romans 12:9-21
For the rest of his letter to the Romans, Paul applies the gospel he has just explained. There is a lot of helpful information in chapter 12 on what our life should look like, but we have to be careful that we do not see it as a new set of rules to obey. Let’s go back to two verses we looked at yesterday – the first two verses of chapter 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 sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 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. – Romans 12:1-2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world…
That can be defined two different ways. We first think of it as the sinful and selfish ways of the world. We are given the Spirit so that we no longer have to be slaves to sin and give in to the urgings of the world. But let’s look at it another way. Don’t copy what the world says is socially acceptable and good. That’s self-righteousness. If we try to be a good person and avoid being a bad person, we are just that – a good person, but still a slave to sin.
… but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
God’s gift of the Spirit living in us changes us into the person He created us to be. It’s not a list of rules to obey but a God to follow, not a set of socially acceptable norms but a life-altering sacrifice. Our body is not our own. Our life is in His hands as we submit to His will – which is good and pleasing and perfect.
So instead of listing all the great life applications Paul gives us in Romans chapter 12, let’s pray this Scripture together. Let’s agree on these things for you and for me. I need this prayer this week because there are some situations in which the enemy is trying hard to conquer what God intends for good. I don’t know what you are facing this week, but I pray this prayer for you.
Heavenly Father, we offer our lives to you again. We ask that you continue to transform us into new people. Open up our hearts and minds and make us into new people by changing the way we think. Show us your will for our lives – your good, pleasing and perfect plan.
Give us a humble spirit so that we do not think too highly of ourselves but instead honestly evaluate and measure ourselves by the faith you have given us. Help us to see ourselves as part of the body of Christ with a unique gift to share. Use us and our gifts for your purposes this week.
Lord, show us when we are simply pretending to be something we are not. Help us to go beyond our human efforts to be a loving person and, instead, truly love with YOUR love. Break our hearts at what breaks your heart and give us a hate for the things you hate, holding tightly to what is good. May we love each other this week with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other, rather than judging or speaking poorly of each other. Help us not be lazy, that is a focus on ourselves instead of on you. Help us to work hard and serve you enthusiastically. When things get rough, may we rejoice in our confident hope, be patient in trouble and keep on praying. When we see God’s people are in need, may we be ready to help them and eager to practice hospitality.
Lord, you call us to live in harmony with one another and we know that this requires a transformation by you into a new person. Do a work in us that causes us to pray blessings on those who persecute us instead of curses. May we be happy with those who are happy and sincerely weep with those who weep. Take away any pride or thoughts that cause us to think more highly of ourselves than others or to think that we know it all.
May we not pay back evil for evil but instead do things in such a way that everyone can see that YOU are honorable. May we do all that we can to live in peace with everyone – no, more than that! May we do all that YOU can do to live in peace with everyone, knowing that you are our strength. Help us to give our righteous anger to you rather than taking our own revenge.
If our enemies our hungry, give us a heart that desires to feed them.
If our enemies are thirsty, may our first response be to give them something to quench their thirst.
We are your servants, your children. Fill us with your Spirit and do a transforming work in us in which evil cannot conquer but that evil is conquered by good. Together we ask for all of these things in your precious holy name, Amen.