Genuine #love is displayed as well as felt.
Romans 12:9a “Let love be genuine.”
If we look closer at the previous verses where Paul is addressing spiritual gifts, he qualifies each with an admonition on using them: “…if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 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.” (Romans 12:6-8) Then, just as he does elsewhere, Paul follows his teaching on using spiritual gifts with an exhortation to love, but he is very specific on what this love should look like. He had made reference to it in the previous verses, and now he reminds us to serve one another in love, a love that is proven genuine or authentic in its selflessness and fruit. Each spiritual gift is demonstrated in the heartfelt display of its use. In other words, all that we are as Christians is bound up in our love for one another; it is centered on the genuineness of our desire for the good of each other and is manifested in the use of our gifts for one another’s well-being. Paul might say to us today, “Use the gifts God has graciously given to you for each other because you authentically love one another, just as God first loved you.”
Study/Meditation: The negative perspective on Paul’s admonition would be, “Don’t be hypocritical in your love.” Read Matthew 15:7-9 and 23:25-28. What were Jesus’ thoughts on hypocritical behavior? How can you be certain that your love is genuine?
*Father, help me to love genuinely, serving my brothers and sisters with a heart that loves unconditionally. Forgive me where I fail to do this and give me the wisdom to see those areas that need to change. Amen.
Spiritual gifts are given to us so that we will give them to others. #spiritualgifts
Romans 12:6-8 “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 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.”
As we commune together in both diversity and unity, Paul’s next emphasis is on our service to one another. However, all of this must be encompassed in his beginning point from verse one: humility according to God’s mercy. Belonging to the family of God is a blessing among blessings and the natural result of receiving such a blessing should be to do for one another. Paul lists some of the gifts that make up the body of Christ, though it is certainly not exhaustive. He writes a much bigger list in his first letter to the Corinthian church. (1 Corinthians 12) Neither are the gifts on this list mutually exclusive to one another. They overlap and will be expressed and possessed in varying degrees and extents. This isn’t a rigid list with tight lines between categories; truly all of us will have a number of gifts that intermingle and none of our sets of gifts will look exactly like anyone else’s when they are used. This is another illustration of the varying parts of the same body, each with its different function. The overarching point here is that these gifts are given to us so that we will see fruit from them within the church. They are not given to lift us up personally but to build up and edify the church. Spiritual gifts are given to us so that we may give them to others.
Study/Meditation: Read 1 Corinthians 12-14. How does this passage compare with Romans 12:6-8? Why do you think Paul inserted a dissertation on love right in the middle of his points on spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14?
*Father, help me see my spiritual gifts so that I may use them to build up and edify the body. Amen.
The #church should be unified in its diversity and its interconnectedness.
Romans 12:4-5 “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
One of the many things that have been confused in the today’s culture is having unity in diversity. We live in a world that touts individuality at every turn and that it’s okay to be different. Then this same culture claims equality of role and function in every aspect of society, inevitably disqualifying the former claims to individuality. With this kind of confusion, is it any wonder that mankind struggles with unity? God made His children to be individuals, each created with specific gifts and characteristics. Within His family, we should strive to accept and welcome that each of us has differing gifts, which therefore translates into differing roles and functions. When each gifted member operates within his/her role and function, the body runs smoothly. There is unity, and where there is unity, there is communion and productivity. But even beyond that, God created His family to be diverse in their existence as part of a greater whole. We are all part of the church, the bride of Christ, and there is unity in being part of this whole, even as we function individually according to the gifts given to us by our Father.
Study/Meditation: Why is Paul’s comparison of the church to the human body so apt? What part do you play as a function in the body of Christ?
*Father, thank You for making me a part of Your family. Thank You for giving me specific gifts that are individual to me. Help me to accurately see what those gifts are and then use them as You would desire. Amen.
Humility is much harder than some would contend. #gifts#service
Romans 12:3 “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.”
In the previous two verses, Paul has been dealing with our right relationship and sacrifice to God. In light of that, he is now going to address how this should affect our right relationship with others in the body of believers. The first point he makes goes straight to the heart of human nature—self. Proper introspection is uncommon among humanity, at least in terms of humility and service in God’s kingdom. The truth is that humans have a tendency toward myopic behavior; that is they see only as far as themselves. We all view the world through lenses of ourselves; we interpret situations and others from a vantage point of self. Consequently, seeing ourselves for who we really are—measuring our gifts accurately and placing the needs of others above our own—is much more difficult than some would contend. Using himself as an example, Paul is simply reminding us that all that we have and all that we are able to do is a gift from God; therefore we must soberly and correctly evaluate ourselves in humility. Only then will we be able to serve each other as we honor our Father in His kingdom.
Study/Meditation: What is the danger of seeing yourself higher than you ought? How could this tendency inhibit your service in God’s kingdom?
*Father, give me wisdom to see my gifts and my shortcomings so that I may humbly serve others. Thank You for the gifts You have given me. Amen.
Only emersion in the #Bible guards against nominal Christianity.
Romans 12:2 “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.”
The influence of world culture on Christian beliefs is insidious. It is much like that old Southern adage about boiling a frog—you start out in lukewarm water and turn it up gradually. The frog will boil to death without realizing it is happening. Even in Paul’s time this was an issue, and he is addressing it in this verse. This is difficult to discern at times when much of what God says in His Word is anti-world culture, thereby anti-human nature. Therefore Christians have to stay close to God’s Word, renewing their minds, so that they can distinguish the difference between the two. Otherwise we run the risk of being lost in a sea of lukewarm water, languishing placidly amongst truths. When the tide shifts, these truths will be shuffled around in life’s waves. If we haven’t secured our minds onto the only steady and perfect truth of God’s Word, we will find ourselves in the deep waters of conformity, drowning in the sea of half-truths and deception. As the psalmist sang in Psalm 119:104, “Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.”
Study/Meditation: How does a daily Bible study help aid in fighting to transform your mind? What can you do, starting today, that will help renew your mind to God’s perfect will?
*Father, Your words are perfect and just. I delight in them and will study them daily. Keep them ever present in my heart and in my mind so that I will follow only Your ways. Amen.
Salvation is the free gift that should cause us to offer everything. #livingsacrifice
Romans 12:1 “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.”
Many of us may have heard believers declare, “I have given my heart to God,” and this is a good thing. However, Paul would argue that God doesn’t simply want your heart; He wants all of you. Paul is reminding us that we have been saved only by God’s grace and mercy, so because of that we should desire to worship and serve Him with all that we are. Keep in mind that we don’t give Him all of ourselves so that we will receive His mercy. We do so because we have received His mercy, and this sacrifice is the manner in which we honor and worship our Father. What this means on a practical level is that every aspect of our lives should be lived in light of the gift we have received. Everything we do, everything we are must be in accordance with the holiness that is acceptable to our Lord, not so that He will love and accept us, but because He has already done so. We live today in gratitude, and that gratitude manifests itself in giving all to Him—heart, mind, body, and soul.
Study/Meditation: What parts of your life or your person have you not yet sacrificed to God? How might you do so?
*Father, I give to You all of me, and when I fail to do so, show me where that is so that I may change it and be a total sacrifice for You. I love You. Amen.