Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Is it Logical to Serve Him? 8/21/2011

Our text today speaks to all in that we are encouraged on the basis of mercy received to do that which is reasonable or logical, which to give our bodies as a holy and acceptable living sacrifice to God. The first three verses of our text (12:1-3) speak of our individual responsibilities and the last five verses (12:4-8) speak to the the importance of the individual gifts being used in a united manner so as to work together for the common good of the body. There are seven gifts listed in this text, all of which serve to nourish and admonish the body. They do not exist for themselves, but they are given so that others may benefit from their use. We are a family and families care for one another.

KJV Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. {soberly: Gr. to sobriety}
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

As the Apostle Paul transitions from the doctrinal portion of his letter to the Romans, he appeals (pleads, urges) his listeners/hearers to consider that which he is telling them on the basis of the mercies of God. These compassions/pities he has outlined, explained and illustrated in the first eleven chapters of this fabulous book of the Bible, the book of Romans. Essentially what he writes of in the first part of the book (doctrinal) is of the provision of God through Christ's Gospel, of the univeral need for the Gospel and that He has chosen us according to His mercy and His love which is received through faith. Within chapters 9-11 we see clearly the heart of Paul to bring his fellow countrymen, the Jews, into the full knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We come before this text with the same awareness, in that Paul wants to bring us into a fuller knowledge of that which God has done for us in Christ. We have been brought into full fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. He is like saying, now that God has done all this for you and has given you all that you would ever need, live in this reality of oneness. Don't be separated!!

On this basis, he appeals to us so that we would present our bodies as a living sacrifice, set apart, acceptable/pleasing unto God, which is our reasonable/logical service. He is saying first of all to the Jews and the Gentiles who were divided, that it is kind of dumb to be arguing over anything since Christ has brought all things together through the Gospel. Does not this apply to us as we consider that which we have been given? How much do we appreciate that which God has done for us and yes, given to us? How much is it worth to us? Does it seem reasonable/logical to us to present our lives as living sacrifices to Him? Does it seem logical to us to present our lives solely to be set apart to God for His purposes? Does it seem reasonable for us to please God rather than ourselves?

Paul then goes on to give us his counsel in that we are not to be conformed/shaped by/live after the patterns of this world, but to be transformed/changed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may prove by testing what God wants, that it is good, pleasing and complete.
He is telling us that in the presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices that we will through examining, scrutinizing and proving be able to determine what is good, pleasing and complete according to God. Essentially what he seems to be saying is that since we are God's, we allow Him to do that what He wants with us.

Continuing on, we hear that we are to resist pride in thinking of ourselves higher than we ought, but we are to be of a sound mind in these matters, for God is the one who has given to everyone faith. In another place, Paul wrote about his same subject: ESV 2 Corinthians 10:12 "Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding."

He now leaves off discussing the individual aspect of how we approach ourselves in relation to Christ and now he brings forth teaching as to how we relate to one another within His body, using our physical bodies as an illustration.

"For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members of another."

This is easy for us to grasp as we can readily understand that our physical body would simply not work if it was not made up of the members it consists of, but was all legs, all arms, all ears and so on. Also, it would not work if our collective physical members did not work together for a common purpose. All the members of our physical body exist to help and to serve one another. Just as the eye serves the hand so that when one reaches for something it will find its target, just as the legs move so as to bring our body to a different location, so also there are various gifts which we have been given by God so that the entire body of Christ may together reach for that which is has been created: To glorify God in worship in the coming together in the realization that God has restored us in His Son!!

Concerning the body's synchronizaton, Paul lists seven different gifts of grace that God has distributed. They are:

1. Gift of Prophecy
2. Gift of Ministry
3. Gift of Teaching
4. Gift of Exhortation
5. Gift of Giving
6. Gift of Leadership
7. Gift of Showing Mercy

The writer has added some additional input with each of these seven that he listed, and so we list each one again the additional instruction along with some of my own words of definition/explanation.

Prophecy: Within the analogy of faith as taught in the Scriptures
Ministry: Serving Others
Teaching: Teach, Do it
Exhortation: Encouragement, do it
Giving: Singleness of heart, sincerety
Leadership: With diligence, concentrate on what we are doing
Showing Mercy: With cheerfulness, readiness of mind, enjoy showing mercy

As we close this brief meditation, we notice that Paul began this chapter with an appeal to his audience based upon mercy received. Note how our last verse ended: "He that shows mercy, with cheerfulness." It is as if everything that he wrote of in the beginning of this twelfth chapter is sandwiched between the reality that our whole life is to be lived out in the shadow of our having received mercy from our Creater, Redeemer, Sustainer and Judge. He has been and is merciful to us. In light of that being a reality in our lives by faith, how could any other type of life be reasonable or logical for us? How could we live our lives for ourselves any other way than to present them to God for Him to do with as He wishes so that His purposes would be done? If we are going to be honest with Him in His Word and with ourselves, we must conclude that it would be illogical or unreasonable to live our our existence here on this earth for ourselves!!

We see the progression in the way that God has ordained that His Body function: He acted for us in Creation and Redemption, He calls for us to come into reality through repentance and faith so that we can see who He really is, and then He encourages us to live our existence here on this earth in merciful service to others through participation in His body of believers here on earth.

1. It means having the right attitude towards God.
2. It means presenting our lives for the benefit of the lives of others.
3. It means participation in our local congregation.

As we consider the mercy that God has given to us and as we consider His mercy toward us today, may we ask ourselves some questions as we look at the end of summertime, the end of vacation. As we look at the resumption of school, of Sunday School, of Confirmation Class, of Discussion Group, Post Confirmation Class, Youth Group, of Bible Study, and so forth, may we consider making a fresh start in commitment to participate in these opportunities to have fellowship one with another.

May we not only consider those things that are designed to nourish us in Christ, to build us up in Christ, but may we also consider ways that we could serve others so that they could be encouraged, strengthened and built up in the Lord, in His body. We have been served by God through Christ so that we may be of service to others.

We have received mercy, for God has not given us that which we deserve, but He has granted unto us abundant mercy and pardon in the forgiveness of our sins through the Gospel. Therefore it is reasonable/logical that we should show mercy with cheerfulness to ourselves, to our family, to our congregational members, to those of our community and well, to all people in this world.

May the abundant mercy of the Lord be grasped in a greater and deeper way by us today!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 21 Aug 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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