Romans 12 (ESV)
A Living Sacrifice
12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Gifts of Grace
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Marks of the True Christian
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12 opens with a call for us to live our lives as living sacrifices and I think our default response to this is to shrink bac, from this level of involvement.
The reality, however, is that we give our lives as a sacrifice to something and the question here is not whether we will sacrifice ourselves but to whom are we sacrificing.
What is it that motivates us?
What drives us?
There’s actually a very helpful way to think about what impels people in life by the acronym: T.A.K.E.S.
Theology – Who or what is God?
Anthropology – Who is man? What is his nature?
Knowledge – What do we know? How do we know it?
Ethics – How should we live our lives?
Salvation – What is our end? How will we be saved?
Everybody lives their lives and sets their priorities in answer to these five categories. You might think that only those who reflect on these five categories are going to really care.
The reality is that people are living their lives and setting their priorities on what they believe about these things.
But what have we learned about God, man, knowledge, and salvation from the Scriptures that motivates us?
Let me give you a quick rundown on the book of Romans.
Ch 1-11 Summary.
Romans has answered the question about God – His holiness, His righteousness, all men know Him and His wrath is poured out on man.
Mankind – created in the image of God and fallen in Adam. He owes God everything but doesn’t worship him. Romans 1-2 showsthat the natural man is hostile to God.
Knowledge – man is not at the center of the universe and the way we know is that God condescends by way of revelation so that man can know things because he is God’s image bearer. We also know that man owes God thankfulness.
Salvation – Romans 4-11 is a recounting of the mighty works of God to deliver us from sin and death and adtopt us into His family in Christ.
Romans 12, then, is saying that – in light of God’s mercy – this is how we should live.
What is reasonable, Christian, if God’s account of reality is really real?
You are sacrificing your lives already for some goal.
You are sacrificing the hours and minutes of a day because you believe the activities are important.
Your time on the earch is coming to an end one second at a time and you are sacrificing the time of that life for various goals.
What is most reasonable:
1. That you sacrifice the time and energy of your life for other motivations OR
2. That you present your lives as a living sacrifice to God because of the great mercy He has shown you?
If your answer is number 1 – that you’re living for another goal then you have not yet been granted life in the Gospel.
If youyr answer is 2 and that you are confident of the things that Christ has accomplished for you then it is reasonable, not far-fetched, that you would sacrifice your life for the only thing that makes sense.
What does this look like?
Paul explains what a life transformd by the Gospel looks like in Romans 12-16 but our focus in on Chapter 12 as to what it looks like in the Church and with our neighbors.
Romans 12:3-8 reminds us again, as we’re remindedelsewhere, that we’re each gifted in the Church for the benefit of one another.
There is no such thing as a Christian who has no gift that can be used for the benefit of the body.
There is also no such thing as a gift that is better than another gift.
We are a selfish culture and the temptation for us is to treat the Church as a place where we serve with the remains of the time that we have left over from other activities that take priority overour service to the Church.
Have a party or grame or activity on Saturday that leaves us too tired to serve each other on Sunday?
Then we consider it reasonable that we will de-prioritize worship and service to our brothers and sisters at Church.
Got too much going on with work and the family?
It is reasonable that the Church will receive less of us.
Yet, nowhere in my reading of Scripture can I find anything that Christ more highly prioritizes for Himself and for us than His Body, the Church.
We’ve been given to one another insofar as Christ has purchased us and the way He builds us up is by the mutual encouragement and upbuilding as each member contributes his/her gifts.
There’s no point in me trying to browbeat you with this reality. I am just trying to declare it.
I’m trying to let you reflect upon the reality of what’s real.
I’m trying to get you to think through the “living sacrifice” question.
What are you presenting yourselves as a “living sacrifice” toward in your livesthat leaves no time/energy for sacrificing to the Church.
What does this look like to be a living sacrifice?
These are hypotheticals but it looks like this:
1. A mother with two small children who shows up every week to teach/encourage the youth in the Church to know Christ. Week in, week out. Week in, week out. People volunteer and then have a late night and they don’t show but she shows up. Some don’t bring their kids because they’ve had other things going on but she shows.
2. A mother with nine children and a job that means she comes to Church an hour after an all-night shift. Her children ask for prayers that their mom might stay awake on the road or that a deer might not jump out and cause an accident. She comes in from that kind of schedule and coordinates the nursery. In view of God’s mercy, she presents herself as a living sacrifice.
3. A mom with small children who’s husband is far away in danger shows up to help coordinate check in for the nursery.
I’m recounting this list again not to browbeat.
What Paul tells us in Romans is what I’m trying to tell you: God has saved you so what are you sacrificing your lives for if not for Christ and His Church? So if God has given you a gift of service then do so with joy.
If you don’t have that “mercy of God” in your bloodstream then something else is coursing through you.
Soemthing else is motivating you daily toward another way in which you are sacrificing the intensity of your life.
Paul concludes Romans 12 with examples of what it looks like when we’ve embraced this “God has saved me from the pit” mentality.
We don’t consider anyone in life as beneath us.
We don’t rush to honor ourselves but try to honor others.
We do whatever we can to get along with people.
We love our enemies and are kind to them because we know that judgment does not belong to us.
These are all things that arise out of our reality check.
These are all things we do because it is the way that transformed minds think.
I just want to urge us all to re-prioritize our thinking and so our lives will follow.
INstread of being pressed in to the mold of this world let us resist and consider the mercies of Christ.
If we fix our hearts and minds upon His work then it re-prioritizes our lives because we understand what Christ has accomplished and is accomplishing in our behalf.