Paul set out his proposition in verses 1-2, that we offer ourselves as living sacrifices and be transformed by the renewing of our minds as a response to grace− in verses 3-8 we have our first lesson on how to go about it: Serve the body of Christ in humility.
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. (12:3)
So, it would seem that the first step in the transformative process is that we adopt an attitude of humility. Right away, we can see that not being conformed to this world was something Paul was very serious about (v. 2) for in this age of “game”, “swagger” and “bling” humility is very much out of style. Verse 4 uses the metaphor of our bodies in the same way that Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 12 as he shows that each of us has a unique part to play in the Body of Christ. While this is easy enough to grasp, he takes another shot at the attitudes of this world in verse 5 when he says each member belongs to all the others. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen Christians bristle at that one.
In verses 6-8 Paul refers to spiritual gifts that each of us has received by the Holy Spirit.
I hope you will consider this carefully: In a context of humble service, a context that is not only counter-intuitive but also counter-cultural for most of us, Paul tells us to exercise our spiritual gifts in humble service to the Body of Christ. Think about the magnitude of the implication of this…
Not only are we to adopt an attitude of true and honest humility, not only are we to consider or positions as members of and belonging to the Body of Christ, but we are to serve the Body of Christ. Yet even more striking than that, we are to rely upon our spiritual gift from God in our service, which is to say that we are not to rely on our own strength, ability or talent, but on God’s grace alone.
Now, let’s think about what we’ve already seen in Romans, again let’s consider why Israel did not obtain righteousness by the Law. They relied on their own strength and ability to follow the Law, but they did not rely on God for His righteousness. How are we to live as Christians? We are to rely on God in all things to serve His purpose and not our own abilities.
Paul is just getting started in these life lessons; there’s a lot more to come See you next time…
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This verse was used against me in a previous church. When a departing pastor would at least try to encourage trust in the elders, he decided to throw this at us. He had positive things to say about everyone, but the leadership. And he was leaving on good terms. It was baffling to us, but it also confirmed some things we became aware of as he left. Now it’s hard for me to read it without all those negative emotions coming back. And, like you point out, it’s so important for all of us as we live out our life with Jesus. It’s my job to forgive, release the resentment…again, and hear the message of my Savior. Thank you for conveying it so clearly!
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