Jul. 30, 2022

Live Like You Mean It! Live Like You Believe It!

The previous post (Paul’s Letter To the Church at Rome) expounds on Paul’s extensive teaching through the first eleven chapters of the book of Romans. In chapter twelve, Paul adds a layer of information in the form of instructions for practical application. His writing is clear, expressive and direct. For those who are eager to learn and know the Word of God, Romans is a powerful book! In chapter twelve, Paul offers direction on how to live what he has taught in the letter or book up to that point. He is thorough in his foundational instruction. This is a great book to be studied for all those who have a desire to know and to do the perfect will of God. While we are not without flaws, the Word of God is flawless. The Word will guide us as we seek to live in faith, holiness and righteousness. Reading Romans and saturating our spirits, minds and hearts with this Word will strengthen our spiritual core. We will be stronger and gain unwavering stability in the Lord through Paul’s teaching.

The first three verses speak to the conduct of the believer. Paul touches on physical, moral, ethical and humble behavior and thinking.

Romans 12:1-3 AMP - Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. 

 2 And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

3 For by the grace [of God] given to me I say to everyone of you not to think more highly of himself [and of his importance and ability] than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has apportioned to each a degree of faith [and a purpose designed for service].

Paul starts with the center of the challenges we all face. If we are able to master physical discipline, moral discipline and ethical discipline, humility will naturally follow. No one who has learned to reign and control natural human tendencies sits on the throne of pride. Battling the flesh, ego and sin will keep a fresh slice of humble pie right before us on a daily basis.

After Paul hits the middle of the target in verses 1-3, he addresses the next most troublesome factor for many believers. It is recognizing and genuinely appreciating the differences in other people. Most of us have a distinct set of likes and dislikes. We seek to be influenced, entertained, comforted, taught and socialized by our “likes”. Many of us are so expert at doing this that we are quite uncomfortable in an atmosphere or setting that does not primarily consist of our “likes”. We turn our noses up if the food is not exactly how we like it. We snub people who aren’t quite our “cup of tea”. We avoid places where we don’t shine or aren’t sure of the social norms.

In verses 4-8, Paul is promoting unity instead of division. In his day, just like in modern times, there was a lot of division. The believers carried their prejudices and biases right from the world and into the church. They looked sideways at those who didn’t meet their standards.  They saw themselves as separate and better than some of their brothers and sisters. In the church we are all sheep with one Shepherd. We are to appreciate and celebrate our kin. We are all of the family of God. Regard and enjoy your brothers and sisters. Recognize and value their part in the family. God made them just like He made you. Honor the handiwork of God in others.

4 For just as in one [physical] body we have many parts, and these parts do not all have the same function or special use, 5 so we, who are many, are [nevertheless just] one body in Christ, and individually [we are] parts one of another [mutually dependent on each other]. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them accordingly: if [someone has the gift of] prophecy, [let him speak a new message from God to His people] in proportion to the faith possessed; 7 if service, in the act of serving; or he who teaches, in the act of teaching; 8 or he who encourages, in the act of encouragement; he who gives, with generosity; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy [in caring for others], with cheerfulness.

Verses 9-12 are about passion! Paul uses strong, expressive language to convey his thoughts. The Romans, in general, were forceful and direct people. They were not mild and passive but operated in an atmosphere of accelerated achievement and performance. Paul was spurring them on to seek to let their zeal for God be as intense as His care and love for them warranted. Is your commitment and dedication to God reflective of His consistency and faithfulness to you? Are you yearning for Him and His Presence in a manner that is commensurate with how He has cared for you and provided for you and protected you?

9 Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor; 11 never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; 12 constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength],

It is evident that our Father God has no tolerance for “lukewarm”. Be cold or hot. Take a stand one way or the other. Know what you believe and why. Be firm in your convictions.

 Revelation 3:16 So because you are lukewarm (spiritually useless), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth [rejecting you with disgust].

 James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask [for wisdom] in faith, without doubting [God’s willingness to help], for the one who doubts is like a billowing surge of the sea that is blown about and tossed by the wind. 7 For such a person ought not to think or expect that he will receive anything [at all] from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides].

If you don’t have what you need, ask for it, look for it, find it. Someone else has it. Find out how they got it. Ask questions. Spend time with people who have the spiritual strengths and disciplines that you desire. Their maturity will affect you in positive ways. Then you can go and do likewise: help someone else to be better, stronger and more secure in the Lord.

 ~~Live Like You Mean It!~~