“Taking Romans Personally”Categories: Bible, Christian life, love, service, study
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12.1-2)
Paul connects Romans 12 ("therefore") to the mountain of previous teaching from Romans 1-11. Before he presents what we should do, Paul deals with great theological truths about what God has already done and how we stand in relation to Him because of our faith in Jesus Christ.
Beyond being merely an intellectual exercise, the renewing of our minds includes actually obeying God--doing that which is good and right--which Paul immediately outlines for us in Romans 12.3-15.7. Here's a quick breakdown of what is covered:
- Don't think of yourself more highly than you ought; evaluate yourself properly (12.3-8)
- Love genuinely (12.9-13)
- Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep (12.14-21)
- Subject yourself to the government (13.1-7)
- Love your neighbor as yourself (13.8-10)
- Walk properly, as in the daytime (13.11-14)
- Welcome the weak in faith (14.1-15.7)
Just about all of this has to do with submitting ourselves to others. How do we actually present our lives as living sacrifices to God and renew our minds? We follow Christ's footsteps (see 13.14; 15.1-13) by assuming the lowest place, subjecting ourselves to every ordinance of God, submitting to one another in love, yielding to our enemies, and welcoming brethren with whom we don't see eye to eye.
Once, a friend asked (in light of the "bearing with the weak in faith" from Romans 14), "How can you know who is the weak brother?"
"Whoever the other guy is, that's the weak one," I jokingly replied.
But silliness aside, I'm pretty sure that is not the question God would have us ask, because if we use Romans 14 to start a big row over who is weak and who is strong, does that not divide rather than unify, as Paul insisted upon?
As I read Romans 12-15, God speaks to me, personally. I know He didn't write Romans directly to me, but I should read it as a message from God to me. In other words, I don't read it to figure out how you ought to change in your actions towards me; rather I read to discover how I might repent and change in my actions towards you. I can only worry about and change myself, and God has given me control over only one person on this planet.
If every Christian read the Bible this way, wouldn't God produce unity through our obedience? If every husband obeyed God’s commands about being the right kind of husband and didn't try to force his wife to be the right kind of wife...if every wife obeyed God by respecting her husband properly...if every brother treated his fellow siblings with love and did not worry about what they did or didn't do for him...what power and change might we see?!
Do you take God's word personally?
"If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." (Rom. 12.18)