Greetings! I did a laity Sunday sermon on verses 1-13 a couple years ago — notes and 25 minute audio here. It was interesting to re-listen to it — I forgot just how much I worked in there!
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
V. 1-2 are two of my all-time favorites. We are to sacrifice our lives to God even as we live. It is part of our worship of him.
It is a constant challenge not to conform to the patterns of this world. There are hundreds of things per day trying to pull you towards Satan’s kindgom and not God’s.
How do we transform ourselves? By renewing our minds with Scripture. Jesus prayed in John 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. That is the primary way God changes us. Do you want to become more like Jesus? Then read the Bible. If you are happy where you are and don’t want to get closer to God, then don’t read it.
3 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 measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
God gives us many gifts but in different proportions. We shouldn’t be prideful, because these are gifts from him. We didn’t earn them. Neither should we be overly humble about them. He gave them to us to use for his glory.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Each simple phrase is a sermon unto itself. It isn’t wrong to hate what is evil! Zeal is good! It is interesting that he specifically mentions sharing with God’s people. Of course we should share with others, but when God’s people take care of each other it sends a great message to the world.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
V. 14 is really hard to do, but it is possible because we are commanded to do it. I have heard of martyrs who suffered more than I probably ever will who did an incredible job of blessing those who persecuted them. It is very humbling to read about them.
Are you willing to associate with people of low position? I don’t know if this counts, but I have found Kairos Prison Ministry to be one of the most enjoyable things I have done. At work I try to be friends with people at any levels.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
I’m probably missing the point here, but when you feel like taking revenge remember that God can repay with his wrath much more thoroughly and fairly than you can.
This is a radical teaching. It is completely contrary to the typical view of the world and of other religions. Being kind to your enemies really disarms them.
What parts of this chapter stood out to you and why?