How to Do Romans12:1-2-Part Two
Romans 12:1-2 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer 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.
Last week, we began taking a look at what it means to live as the Living Sacrifices that are described in Romans 12:1-2. We unpacked Romans 12:3-10 which follow, and we identified that in order to be a Living Sacrifice a believer’s life would reflect honest evaluation, faithful cooperation, and loving participation. As we move on in Romans 12, today we’ll continue to develop our definition of what a Living Sacrifice is by what we read in verses 11-21. We’ll look at two main ideas here which are Internal Devotion and Devotion in Motion. Paul helps us see that becoming a Living Sacrifice will require an internal devotion which will lead a person to put that devotion into motion. If you are ready to here more say, “Bring it, Sister.” Alright, let’s go!
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:11-12
Everything Paul lists in these two verses involves paying attention to our spiritual selves. That’s really how spiritual growth happens. It happens by paying attention to our spiritual selves. When we do, when we are present and active to focus on and invest in that part of ourselves that isn’t so heavily connected to the material and physical world we will grow in spiritual ways. Paul listed four ways we can devote ourselves to our spiritual development:
Fuel your spiritual fire to serve the Lord. Romans 12:11 is my life verse. “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
When I read that verse, I hear Paul say, “Throw another log on the fire. Fan into flame your spiritual passion. Find ways to be keep your heart for Jesus full of passion.” Each one of us needs to look for the ways that we can increase our passion for the Lord. Our walk with the Lord is a relationship which will grow or die depending upon our investment just like any relationship would.
The way to increase love is to focus on increasing the relationship. If we expect our love for God to burn strong every day, but we only worship Him and read His Word once a week, the fire that is kindled on Sunday is going to burn pretty low by Monday night. We have to look for ways to throw another log on our spiritual fire. If my husband only talked to me once a week or told me he loved me once a week, I don’t think you would describe that relationship as passionate. If he only wanted to share what was going on in his mind and his heart with me once a week, that wouldn’t make for a very intimate relationship. If we only occasionally discussed plans and dreams, we wouldn’t be intentionally living on the same page with each other. We would drift. Our love would grow cold. The same is true of our relationship with God. The more wood you throw on a fire, the hotter it becomes and the longer it will burn.
Fuel your relationship with Jesus by nurturing and paying attention to your spiritual life and your relationship with God.
Paul goes on in verse 12 to say we should be Joyful in hope. People who are hopeful live with a spirit of anticipation. They believe something good is going to happen. Doesn’t living with anticipation sound like more fun than living with dread? Believers, we don’t need to walk around with a defeated mind and a defeated mouth. What we think and what we say needs to be filled with hope. We can live with expectation.
Jeremiah 29:11 says that God not only has a future for us, but that He has a plan to give us hope. Hope is a by-product of a passionate relationship with Jesus. If you will keep throwing logs on your spiritual fire you will have the hope you need to live each day with joy, but if you live disconnected from God you will live disconnected from your hope.
Isaiah 40:31 tells us that those who hope in the Lord will receive strength. We need mental, physical and spiritual strength to develop and maintain an overcoming spirit. Don’t let the fire go out, friends. If you do, you are compromising the strength you can receive from God.
Romans 15:13 tells us that hope breeds peace. When we live with the spirit of hope we aren’t fearful about what is out in front of us, but we have supernatural peace. Hope is a grace that the Holy Spirit sends to us as we keep throwing logs on the fire.
Romans 12:12 goes on to say we can learn to be patient in affliction. People who live with this mindset determine that Something good is being worked in and through their trials. The good things God has for us come to us not only in spite of our trials, but sometimes they come as a direct result of our trials. Romans 8:28 tells us that God is never asleep at the wheel as He directs the affairs of our lives. He is always working out a plan that is for our good. Plans take time. Plans involve strategy. Strategy takes time. Plans involve a process. Processes take time. Plans can include people. Getting the right people in the right place can take time. People who will be diligent to fan the flame of their relationship with Jesus will be able to trust Him and wait on His timing.
Good things come to those who wait. This isn’t just a cultural expression, but it is a biblical principle: Lamentations 3:24-26 (NIV) 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Patience is being expressed here. The writer goes on to say, “25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him. He believes something good is on its way. You may look at a situation and think, “This doesn’t look good,” but if you are willing to exercise faith in every circumstance and keep throwing logs on your spiritual fire, you can encourage yourself through the reality that something good is on its way no matter how bad things look.
And so the writer says, “The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. He may as well have said, “to the one who keeps throwing logs on the fire.” If you seek the Lord in everything, you will find Him. When you find Him, you find His goodness, you find His mercy, His strength, His power, His blessing. When you find Him, you will find all you need. That is why the writer concluded with this thought in Lamentations 3:26: It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
People who are Living Sacrifices don’t hold God to their timetable. They let Him govern and guide in His time.
One final thought on this idea of internal devotion. Romans 12:12 finishes by saying we need to be faithful in prayer. People who live with this internal devotion believe Someone is there to help them through it all. Prayer connects us with the presence of God. He is that Someone. When we are living with the awareness that God is with us, we know that He will see us through no matter what. Sometimes He will coach us. Sometimes He will correct us. Sometimes He will carry us, and at all times He will care for and cover us. This is the assurance we have when we pray. If you are distressed and stressed by life’s challenges, you need to throw another log on the fire through the element of prayer.
These are the internal habits of people who desire to be Living Sacrifices. As we move on through the rest of Romans 12, we see that our internal devotion is supposed to become
Devotion in Motion
In the rest of this chapter I see three external evidences of an internal commitment to be a Living Sacrifice. They are: Sharing, Caring, and Warring. This is how we put our devotion into motion, by living these kinds of behaviors out.
Sharing-Romans 12:13 tells us to “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
These sound like commands to me. Paul says that sharing and hospitality are hallmarks of people who are living sacrifices. Paul isn’t just talking about the giving of our resources, although, I would say that is step one and needs to be a regular and consistent practice for believers, but he wants us to know that generosity and sharing also extends to the way we share our lives, to the way we befriend people, to the concern we show for them as we are hospitable toward other people. You see, hospitality ensures we are sharing sincerely, that we are sharing personally. You can share by giving someone a check or a gift card, and we all appreciate gifts like that, but Paul said, “Do both.” Do the gifts, the sharing of resources, but also do the caring by extending hospitality in a personal way. And I like the word he puts in front of the word, “hospitality.” It is practice. We are to practice hospitality and as we do, our love for people will grow deeper and more sincere.
When Paul wrote to Timothy in I Timothy 3:2, he told him that as a minister of Jesus he should be given to hospitality. The Spirit of Christ is a spirit of concern for others. How we give ourselves in friendship and fellowship is a spiritual practice. I love that often when you read the stories of Jesus you hear that He was at someone’s home. He obviously didn’t have a way to host people in His home because Jesus was a homeless person. Am I right? He was homeless, but He found a way to get into people’s homes and even became a “host” of sorts in those settings as He would teach or meet a need or offer the Passover Meal to His disciples.
It was hospitality that became an evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in the early church as they were set ablaze with love for other believers and others not yet in the faith. There was a mutual sharing of possessions and an openness about which they gathered from home to home.
Another evidence of this devotion in motion is the outward expression of caring.
Caring-One of our ministry mindsets and principles here at TVCOG is that “You Matter Here.”
Not only do I value you as a person, but I value your life experiences and spiritual pursuits. What you are going through is important to me. You living well, you having abundant life is important to me. You knowing that you aren’t alone when times get tough is important to me. You knowing you are appreciated or that you are special is important to me. You knowing that I am happy for you when you receive a blessing or achieve a certain status is important to me because we are family. Paul put it this way in verse 15: 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Living in such a way that demonstrates that we care for people is vital for their emotional and spiritual well-being. That is how they know we see them. That is how they know they matter. When you show up at a funeral visitation, your presence says more than your words ever could. When you reach out to ask if someone is OK because you know they are going through a tough time, your concern means more than you could know. When you come alongside people and become an extra set of grandparents or support for someone who lives alone, you give people courage and quality of life just because you care.
Remember, the whole purpose of this message is to learn how to do Romans 12:1-2, how to be a living sacrifice, to be a person who has been transformed in their mindset and behavior. Living sacrifices aren’t self-absorbed and self-focused, but they are others-focused. In caring for others we are demonstrating that a transformation from self to others has or is taking place.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
This verse speaks volumes to me about caring for others. If I am going to live in harmony with other people that means I am not going to have an argumentative spirit. It means I won’t have a critical spirit. It means I won’t try to pick fights or make it my aim to win them when they do happen. It means I am going to look for ways to get along with people. I’m going to seek out common ground. I am not going to do and say things on purpose to try to manipulate people or criticize them just for the sake of being critical. There is obviously a place for teaching and correction and for helping people understand what God expects, but I’m talking about not living offended and about seeking not to purposely offend others. I’m talking about not making a big deal about something that is just a difference of opinion. I’m not talking about overlooking sin or watering down the Gospel, but I am talking about living peaceably with people and pursuing peace with all people. I show I care about people by wanting to live in harmony with them.
Paul went on to say that we are supposed to be willing to befriend all kinds of people. A person’s status or race or background should make zero difference to us as Christ-followers. We aren’t better than anyone else. You’ve heard the expression, “The ground at the foot of the cross is level.” That’s the point. We all come to Jesus the same way. We come as sinners and we are cleansed by the blood of Christ. That makes us all the same. We aren’t called to criticize the broken, downtrodden, disenfranchised, and down and out. We are called to care for and lift them up. Listen, it doesn’t really matter to me why a person is where they are or what they have done to contribute to their broken situation. What matters to me is where Jesus wants to take them, and as I help care for them, my commitment is to help them get there.
Lastly, I would suggest to you that another way we express devotion in motion is that we refuse to do war the way the world does.
We must embrace a kind of warfare that is spiritual and not carnal. Living Sacrifices don’t seek to “fight fire with fire.” Living Sacrifices don’t seek to get revenge or to get even. Living Sacrifices suppress the natural instinct to haul off and hit someone or to cuss someone out or to talk badly about people. Living Sacrifices don’t give people the silent treatment and cut them out of our lives just because… Living Sacrifices don’t go on social media and “Vague Book” about someone who did them wrong. You know what Vague Booking is, don’t you? It’s when someone goes on social media and talks horribly about someone, without giving their name, just to put that person in their place and to get everyone else who is reading the post to wonder who it is so that they will private message them to get the scoop, giving the hurt and offended person another opportunity to vent and gain support for their pain. Those are the ways the world wages war. That isn’t our method of operation, church. Well, it isn’t supposed to be.
Warring Look at verses 14 and 17ff:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
As we war, believers, we have to keep the end goal in sight. It was stated in verse 18. Here it is again in case you missed it: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
We spoke about this on Wednesday night. This goes opposite of our inclinations at times. There are people we sometimes don’t want to even talk about much less see, but God tells us to live at peace with everyone. If we do warfare the world’s way, we will damage the opportunity to be at peace with as many people as possible. Allow me to share an example from this week of a godly way to wage war. I am changing the name of the person involved. Thom and I met a lady this week when a mutual friend reached out to her and to me and said, “Hey April, meet Melissa. Melissa, meet April.” My friend went on to say, “April feels a call to ministry and would love to talk to another woman in ministry.” I asked where April lived. Mind you, this was Thursday. April said, “I live in Indianapolis.” Well, I just happened to be in Indianapolis on Thursday and we made plans to meet her Friday morning. Do you think God could have orchestrated any of that? 🙂
During the course of our talk she shared how God had worked over the course of 10 years to use her to love and show love to her husband’s ex-wife even though the woman treated her terribly and made her life miserable. April shared it was a constant struggle, but she loved her like Jesus would to the point where after ten years, the ex-wife said, “Even though people have told me I shouldn’t be friends with you, no one has stuck by me the way you have and have loved my children like you have, so I don’t know why we can’t just be friends.” The transformation in their relationship now over these last several years following that breakthrough has been incredible and is proof that doing warfare God’s way will lead to transformation and peace. That woman laid down her weapons and became a friend because April was willing to love like Jesus.
You see, Living Sacrifices are people who have been transformed to help transform others and to transform the world in which we live.
Internal devotion and external devotion in motion. We will never routinely do what Christ wants us to do until we intentionally become like Jesus. He was a Living Sacrifice. I believe this morning, He is calling us to throw another log on the fire.