Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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      Romans - Chapter 12 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That's the most sensible way to serve God.
    2. Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.
    3. I realize how kind God has been to me, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you.
    4. A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use.
    5. That's how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another.
    6. God has also given each of us different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have.
    7. If we can serve others, we should serve. If we can teach, we should teach.
    8. If we can encourage others, we should encourage them. If we can give, we should be generous. If we are leaders, we should do our best. If we are good to others, we should do it cheerfully.
    9. Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good.
    10. Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself.
    11. Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord.
    12. Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying.
    13. Take care of God's needy people and welcome strangers into your home.
    14. Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them.
    15. When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad.
    16. Be friendly with everyone. Don't be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people.
    17. Don't mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others,
    18. and do your best to live at peace with everyone.
    19. Dear friends, don't try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says, "I am the one to take revenge and pay them back."
    20. The Scriptures also say, "If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat. And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. This will be the same as piling burning coals on their heads."
    21. Don't let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.
Reflections

Romans - Chapter 12

Entered: September 08, 2005
Romans 12:1 is one of the best statements regarding worship that is in scripture. We have all this talk about good worship, but regardless of what we do when we gather as a church to worship, if we have not given ourselves to God as living sacrifices, there is no worship. The best praise we give God is with our lives, not with our voices, our raised hands, or our clapping. These are all good things, but they're not the best. The best is the living sacrifice. It is much like the issue God had with the Israelites when they brought their sacrifices to the temple and followed the letter of the law regarding worship, but their hearts were not with God. This giving of our bodies is accompanied by a renewing of our minds which changes the way we think and allows us to understand the things of God. For instance, with this renewed mind we will understand that even our faith is from God. We will also understand that as God's people we do not all have the same function, just as the parts of the body do not all have the same function. And the function we each have comes to us as a gift from God, given us according to His grace. They are spiritual gifts. Just as he does in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul concludes a discussion of spiritual gifts with a discussion of love. We must exercise our function - our spiritual gift - in love. The various functions of the body should not be at odds with each other, but should function with a sense of respect for the value that each brings to the body.

Entered: October 06, 2011

Beginning with chapter 12, Paul transitions from doctrine to practical Christianity. He begins the practical portion by urging his readers to "present your bodies as a living sacrifice." (12:1) For those coming out of a religious practice of offering dead sacrifices, this is understood as the offering of the total self to God. It is, Paul says, a spiritual worship. It is, I think, the greatest, most pleasing worship we can give God. However sincere our worship may be in singing songs and voicing praise to God, the giving of ourselves is, as they say, "what it's all about." It is the worship God truly desires. Paul says it is "holy and pleasing to God." (12:1)

A second "urging" Paul gives his readers is to "not be conformed to this age" but rather to be "transformed by the renewing of your mind." (12:2) In so doing, they will be able to discern God's will which they will find to be good and pleasing. The word transformation translates a Greek word which is like the English word "metamorphosis," a total change from inside out. It is the mind that is the key to this transformation, and the transformation is the key to discerning God's will. It comes about by focusing the mind, dwelling on, God and His word. As the mind is renewed through this process of focusing on God and His word, our actions are also transformed.

In the following verses, Paul describes what this transformation, this giving of our bodies as living sacrifices, looks like in action. He begins with what it will look like within the church. They will not be prideful, they will embrace the diversity of the many believers and will exercise their various spiritual gifts appropriately while showing "family affection to one another," outdoing "one another in showing honor," and being "in agreement with one another." (12:10, 16) Outside the church, with unbelievers, how will this transformation look? They will not repay evil for evil. They will live at peace with everyone as much as it is within their power. They will treat their enemy with kindness and by so doing will "be heaping fiery coals on his head." (12:20)