What I read today;
Romans 12; Matthew 12; Isaiah 12; Job 12; Joshua 12; Genesis 12
Paul starts out Romans 12 by telling us to live our lives as living sacrifices to God. Now that sounds relatively simplistic, doesn’t it? Then he goes off on a lengthy discourse on how to do that. By the end of the chapter, any thinking person who really is looking deeper will realize that the idea behind being a living sacrifice is going to take a lifetime of effort.
The first thing Paul says is that we have to watch what we put into our minds. The world will always look for a way to push God to the back of our thoughts. In our world today, the internet, cable or streaming media, books, and magazines all point away from God. Those things that promote God are belittled and pushed to the background. The idea of trying to reverse that and put God first in our learning, thoughts, and actions is going to be difficult, to say the least. It’s going to require real sacrifice. Sometimes the things we watch or listen to or follow can do actual harm to our life of faith. Many times we need to remove the item that gets in the way of our faith.
Second, Paul tells the readers to use our spiritual gifts, not as a means of gaining fame and glory. Paul reminds us that our gifts are to be used for the building of the kingdom of God. He tells us to follow Jesus example and associate with people of low character. We shouldn’t judge people as the world judges.
Finally, Paul tells us what a true Christian should look like. The true Christian should be zealous for God. Faithful Christians should bear with suffering quietly and in spite of suffering still be generous and loving to all around him, including the very people who are causing the problems in their lives. Living in peace is not an option, it is a requirement. Resisting the urge for vengeance is not the Christian way. Gloating over the pain of an enemy is simply wrong.
Instead, we vs. 21, Paul tells us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” NRSV
To truly practice being a living sacrifice will require intense amounts of work, prayer, and the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. But our lives can be the most excellent tool for evangelism. People don’t often listen to your sermonizing on the Gospel. They will, however, remember your actions and your deeds as God transforms your life. It is that witness that will have the most significant impact on those around you.