Paul is now making his appeal to all the Christians in Rome. God has demonstrated His great love to all, so all should be grateful to Him. If we have a correct attitude towards God then we also will have a correct attitude towards our selves. This correct attitude will also create a right attitude towards all people. Paul here uses the example of a priest who offers sacrifices. In the Old Testament the priest offered sacrifices of animals for the remission of sin which would be pleasing to God. (Leviticus 1:3, 9)
Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for our sins on the cross means that animal sacrifice is no longer necessary. Paul then points out that the sacrifice to our Lord is our life of service to Him. Paul is teaching us as Christians how we should live in this world. The Christian is to “present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice.” The Christian uses his feet to go where the Lord calls us to go, his hands to aid others in need, the ears to listen to the concerns of others, and the tongue to give encouragement to our Christian family, and to tell the message of Jesus Christ. The right use of our bodies in the service of the Lord is pleasing to God. It is worship, it is spiritual and it is the worship that God requires.
The Christian must experience a new way of thinking. To claim the word of God, yet continue to live as those of the world is hypocrisy. (Matthew 7:5) If we are the Children of God then we are not of this world even as we are in this world. Our life style should be that of the Kingdom of God not of the kingdom of the world. Satan can dominate the way of the world by influencing man’s contemporary thought. (2 Corinthians 4:4) The world is full of changing thought, it is contemporary and not lasting, but God’s Word is truth and never changes. Living by the word of God, living by His truth, will transform us. Paul uses the word transform which is where the word metamorphosis comes from. Paul is meaning that our transformation should be a change coming from the inside and creating a new image on the outside. It is the same word used in Matthew 17:2 to describe the transfiguration of Christ. Christians also should display this change from the inside flowing to the outside. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
By the renewing of the mind Christians depart from the worldly wisdom, which has proven to fail, and seek the wisdom of God. They will think differently how they manage their lives. They have a better perspective on the use of money, how they approach sexual relationships, and what they feed into their minds from books and other media. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will guide Christians as they strive to please God. One goal of the Christian is to grow into the image of their Lord and Master Jesus Christ that they may be able to reflect God’s glory.
Grace the unmerited favor of God was shown to Paul so that he could become an Apostle of Christ. As an Apostles of Jesus Christ Paul speaks with that authority. Paul warns the Christian not to think too highly of themselves and they shouldn’t think themselves better than other people. The Christian is to test themselves constantly. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) Faith means to trust in Christ and it also means to be faithful stewards of the gifts that we have received from Him. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
We have our human body to use as a resource for the glory of God using all members of our body in a unified manner to accomplish the task before us. The Christian as a member of His Church are the members of Christ body. The members of Christ body should work together in a unifying manner the same as we use our bodies. Within the body of His Church there are a variety of skills (gifts) and each skill is necessary for the Church body to work the purpose of God’s work.
The gifts given to Christians should not be a source for pride but should lead the Christian to humility. All good and perfect gifts come to us through God. (James 1:17) It is not something from within us but something given to us to develop for the glory of God the giver. Therefore, our gift is not something we can boast of but be thankful for receiving. Paul list seven special skills given to Christians to use. Paul also mentions other gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4.
- A Christian might receive the gift of prophecy. Prophecy is a message given that has come from God to be given to the Church. This message should not be given without the faith that the message received was from God. The Christian must trust that the message is from God and it will agree with the Bible’s message.
- There is the gift to serve. The Greek word in this text is “diakonia” and can mean several activities. In example the Apostles were serving when they preached. (Acts 6:4) This same word is used to describe the work of the seven disciples who gave food to the poor widows. (Acts 6:2-3) We should use whatever skills we have to serve other people.
- The gift of teaching is needed for the new Christians so that they may learn the meaning of their faith. New Christians must be taught the Word of God and someone must teach them.
- Everyone needs encouragement as they go about their daily tasks. Encouragement here carries two meaning. One is to persuade someone with the use of strong language. This may be seen as the responsibility of the preacher. The other meaning is to comfort and give courage to our fellow Christians. Barnabas was a good example of the encourager. Barnabas was well known as one who would encourage people. (Acts 4:36-37)
- To give. If we give our time, talent and treasure we should do so generously. It should be an enjoyment to us to give to other people in need.
- Leadership. Every organization needs people who will step forward and take the lead in guiding others to follow. Every Church leader should be eager to carry out this responsibility.
- Showing kindness. This can mean two things. We should be ready to forgive people who have offended us because our Lord is always ready to forgive them. It is also extending the hand of help to someone in need. A great example is given to us by the parable of Jesus in the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:30-37)
Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ and we should love each other as family. Paul uses the word agape for the word love. This is the kind of love that God has for us and therefore is a benefit to everyone. Next Paul gives a list of brief rules that Christians should follow. Obedience to these practices will show that our love for one another is real.
Our love must be a sincere love. It must be born of a true concern for the person it is held for. Love must not just be a visible sign on the outside but come from our heart which is on the inside. Jesus made a remark to the Pharisees who appeared to be righteous on the outside but were actually evil on the inside. (Matthew 23:27) Our love must be a real love, not just for appearances but for decided concern.
We are to love the sinner but hate the sin. Sin should disgust us, it should cause spiritual pain. Sometimes people hide their sin because they truly do not hate it. They only hate that someone may discover their sin. As sinners the Christian should confess their sin to God and seek His forgiveness. The repentant sinner should pray to God to help him from future sin. God is faithful and will provide away of escape from our temptations. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Christians are members of the body of Christ. Christians are the Children of God. Christians are brothers and sisters in Jesus. Therefore, we must love other Christians as family members in the family of God. We are spiritual family members and must show the same love that God has for us.
We as Christians must also honor other people. We should not just insist on having our way only. The Christian should not be looking out for their own benefit above the benefit of others. Our purpose is not to seek honor for ourselves by to seek glory and honor for God. In the beatitudes Jesus said blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5) We are to walk with humility. Our Pastor gave us a good example of how to look at this proposition, God first, you second and me last. I don’t desire to be first, third is where I want to be.
Christians are in a spiritual battle against the evil forces of Satan. (Ephesians 6:12) So they must not be slothful in their efforts of opposing sin and the devil. The Christian must use all his energy in the battle for God’s sake.
The Christian must exercise his hope, patience and prayer. Our hope is in the Lord. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17) The Christians future glory is with the Lord. While here in this world there will be trials that we will go through and we must be patient as we work through them. We must be in prayer for ourselves and on behalf of others as we wait for the Lord’s return. (Philippians 4:6)
The Christian must be compassionate towards the poor. Their welfare is our concern. The Christians in the first Church in Jerusalem gave to any one of their members who needed help. (Acts 2:44-45) The Church of Antioch sent gifts in support of the Church in Jerusalem when there was not enough food for the Christians there. (Acts 11:29-30) Today we as Christians must be as willing to help those in need.
Christians should be willing to open their doors in hospitality. The writer of Hebrews said the strangers could be angels that we might not be aware of. (Hebrews 13:2) When we show hospitality to others Jesus said we are showing it to Him. (Matthew 25:40)
It is not easy as our emotions can often get ahead of us but we are to bless those who insult us. We are to pray for those who attack us. We are to be kind to them. We cannot display a good Christian testimony if we return evil for evil. (Romans 12:17) Paul here is presenting the same Christian concept that Jesus was when he said, “pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
We as Christians should with as much empathy as we can be sympathetic with other people as they go through life’s situation. We should share their joys and sorrows, their victories and defeats and their times of brilliance and their times of weakness.
It is easier to be in agreement with someone if we first strive to find understanding. I am not necessarily taking about opinions as they are as many as the stars. I am taking about single-mindedness is trying to achieve the same purpose. It is our purpose to serve Christ and that being the goal we can work together to achieve it. Paul told the Christians in Philippi to have the same love and to be united in spirit and purpose. (Philippians 2:2) Running off into different directions does not bring everyone to the same destination.
We should not judge people by their stations in life. Show favoritism to the rich over the poor, those with influence over the meager, and the pretty to the homely. Christians should be just as accepting to the seemingly unimportant as we are to the seemly important. Jesus was not afraid to be in the company of sinners, as it is they who He came to save. All people are important to God as “God so loved the world.” (John 3:16) In the Church we are all equal, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. (James 2:1-4)
Paul witnessed the stoning of Stephen and heard him pray for those who were stoning him. (Acts 7:60) Paul was also aware of the words of Jesus from the cross. (Luke 23:34) Paul learned that even when someone hurt a Christian we must not return that evil by hurting them.
Christians must stand on their faith in God’s Word and refuse to do that which is wrong. The Christian must also be ready to defend their faith and show that their actions are good. Christians are to be peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9) The world will oppose the Christian just as they opposed Christ. Even when the Christina is living well there will be opposition just because of our faith. Conflicts are inevitable but the Christian must do everything possible to avoid them.
There are three reasons that Paul gives that a Christian must not attack back when someone has hurt them.
- Only God has the right to punish. (Deuteronomy 32:35) presently the human courts have the responsibility to show God’s wrath. (Romans 13:4) When all is said and done God will show just judgment. (Romans 2:5)
- Kindness towards our enemies my change their ways, it may help them to see the right way to go. Paul uses the words from Proverbs 25:21-22. It was an ancient Egyptian custom that if a person wanted to show contrition for wrongs he had committed, he would have a pan of hot coals upon his head. It was painful and he suffered but he wanted to show his desire to amend his guilty conscious. It was away to show his shame.
- The hate of another person is never right. God is love and if the love of God is in us then we hurt His testimony as well as our own by expressing hate towards another person. If the Christian behaves as the enemy, then he has submitted to the wickedness of the enemy. The Christian can overcome evil powers when they do the right things. By acting in the manner that God desires us to act is the only way to defeat sin.