The eighth Sunday of Pentecost – July 16, 2023
Holy Trinity Church – Tom Mount
Exegesis: Romans 12:1-8
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
- “Therefore” – brings together all the teaching that went before in Romans 1-11.
- “in view of God’s mercy” – lit. pl. “mercies:” all the varied ways God “mercifies” us (verb is oiktíro). God does as he is. Cf. Exodus 34:6-7; Isa 30:18; Heb 4:16.
- “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice” – “offer” (paristemi) in Rom 6:13,16,19; “body” (soma), the whole of your material self; “living sacrifice” – not dead animals but a living, embodied self, yielded to God. Sacrifices are costly!
- “holy and pleasing to God” – “holy” (hagios), set apart from ordinary use for God’s exclusive use; “pleasing to God” – our right conduct brings pleasure to God.
- Summary: every human activity becomes an opportunity for worshiping God! Eating, working, exercising, sleeping; worship is doing everything with God and for God.
2 Do not conform 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.
- “Do not conform” – JB Phillips: “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.”
- “transformed” – metamorphoō, morphed into the image of Jesus (2 Cor 3:18).
- “renewing of your mind” – your spirit has already been renewed (Titus 3:5,6); your body will be renewed (Rom 8:23); but your mind is in the process of being renewed daily (2 Cor 3:16). We have a role and God has a role in this renewing process.
- “test and approve what God’s will is” – Our transformation gives us the capacity to test (evaluate, prove) and approve (come in agreement with) God’s will for each situation we encounter.
- “good, pleasing and perfect” – God’s will can’t be improved upon. Anon.: “God is too kind to be cruel; too wise to make a mistake; too deep to explain himself.”
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 faith God has distributed to each of you.
- “more highly… with sober judgment” – don’t have either an over- or an underinflated sense of yourself but an accurate assessment of your gifts and you role in the larger body of Christ, informed by our shared Christian faith.
4 For 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, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”
- “one body with many members “ – different bodily parts/functions: ear, feet, heart
- “each member belongs to all the others” – lit: “members of one another”; a needed corrective to our hyper-individualized culture. Together, we form a single organism.
- “different gifts… grace given to each of us” – God’s gifts (charismata) are expressions of God’s grace (charis). When we use our gifts to serve others, we put an aspect of God’s grace on display, blessing others and honoring God. Cf. 1 Ptr 4:10.
- Other spiritual gift lists: 1 Corinthians 12: 7-11, 28-30; Eph 4:11; 1 Peter 4:9-11.
- What are your spiritual gifts? Do you know? Are you using them regularly? Using them regularly will make you fulfilled and fruitful.
- Paul gives seven examples here: three “word” gifts and four “people” gifts.
7“If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
- prophesying – the divine enablement to declare God’s message. Could be predictive; not always. Important gift: 1 Cor 14:1-12.
- serving – the divine enablement to bless God and others by providing practical help. Often behind the scenes: putting away tables, working on church, etc.
- teaching – the divine enablement to make complex spiritual truths understandable.
- encouraging – the divine enablement to speak timely truth into other’s lives to build them up (reminding them that they are new creatures in Christ, chosen, holy, dearly loved by God, called for significant service, filled and empowered by God’s Spirit).
- giving – the divine enablement to give lavishly to bless others and build God’s kingdom.
- leading – the divine endowment to inspire and mobilize others for God.
- showing mercy – the divine endowment to treat others with God’s forgiving grace.
- Get into the habit of regarding every moment of each day as a “worship opportunity.”
- Discover your spiritual gifts and use them to build up the body of Christ.