Romans 12:1–21comment (0)
October 27, 2011
By Robert Olsen
Related Scripture: Romans 12:1–21
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Does Your Life Please God?
Give Yourself in Worship (1–2)
In Chapter 12, Paul moved from his doctrinal beliefs to practical application of those beliefs. He addressed all of the believers as brothers; this obviously included the Jewish readers as well as the Gentiles. Paul had already spent time explaining how Christians are not to offer their bodies over to sin (see Chapter 6). Their entire existence is to be for God’s glory; by living for Him in all areas of life, they are worshiping Him. This means that the way Christians approach their jobs, families, church, etc., needs to be with God in mind. Paul then turned to their minds and emphasized that believers must have their minds transformed so that they can know what God wants them to do in every situation. Christians are supposed to live, act and think differently than the world. This means, at times, making decisions that will not be popular. It might mean refraining from watching certain TV shows or listening to certain types of music. It might mean deciding to leave a good job to go work in a foreign country as a missionary. Of course, if we are not spending time in prayer, reading God’s Word and spending time in corporate worship, then we will be at a disadvantage when it comes to discerning God’s will. We need to realize that following God means making Him Lord of every area of life. It is not just a matter of going to church. God expects obedience and we show our obedience by becoming living sacrifices.
Use Your Gifts (3–8)
Paul began this section with an encouragement for each Christian to have a humble attitude. If Christians exemplify this attitude, then the body of Christ will be unified and show the world the love that Christians have. This also helps Christians to recognize each human being’s inherent value. Furthermore, in order to ensure unity among the body of believers, Paul stressed that there are many gifts of the Spirit given to Christians and each gift is important. In fact, each gift is valuable for the church and needs to be used in order for the church to flourish. The list that Paul gave is not likely to be exhaustive. This helps the church to recognize each member as significant, since each Christian will have one or more gifts of the Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12).
Love Your Fellow Christians (9–16)
It is unfortunate that Christians often do not get along, especially within the context of church. Church splits have sadly become a common event in 20th- and 21st-century churches. When church splits happen due to petty differences, God is not glorified. Furthermore, when non-Christians see this, they see no difference between the body of Christ and a bunch of quarrelers. Paul emphasized that the sign of true Christians is that they love one another. This should be demonstrated in taking care of Christians in need. The church is to care for members who are sick or hungry as well as extending outward to the world.
Treat Enemies With Kindness (17–21)
Paul said instead of trying to avenge injustices that have been perpetrated upon us, we should care for our enemy. If our enemy is hungry, then we should feed him. If he is injured, then we should care for him. In this way, Paul said we heap burning coals on his head, which likely is an expression that means it will bring him shame. In treating others in this way, others will see God in us, and this is one of the strongest witnesses for Christianity. When Christ went to the cross, He did not seek revenge or curse those who persecuted Him; rather He asked God to forgive them. Since we are called to be like Christ, we need to act in like manner. Through the centuries, one of the main ways that Christianity has spread is through the living testimony of men and women who were persecuted for their faith in Christ. To not strike back is so counterintuitive that it must come from God. When people see that we are looking forward to eternal life with God, they are forced to wonder why they do not share in this hope, which many times leads to conversions. Christians need to be known for being different from the world, and loving our enemies is one of the greatest ways to demonstrate this.