Summary: Part 6 of this series focuses on Romans 12:12.
A Living Sacrifice To God
This is part six of my series “A Living Sacrifice to God.” This morning we will be looking at Romans 12:12 which says, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; constant in prayer.” If you recall from the beginning of the chapter, Paul focused his comments on our renewing our minds and how that will show up in our interactions with others. From verses three through eleven he talked about our relationships with other people, especially other Christians. Then we get to verse twelve where it seems like Paul pauses, considers everything he was telling them about interacting with others and then realizes that he needs to make a point about what we deal with internally in order to interact with others externally. In verse twelve he speaks to our inner struggles which directly impacts our relationship with those around us. It almost seems like he realized that in order to do the things he had previously spoken about and what will follow this verse he needed to insert something about how we are to deal with ourselves. So he says, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; constant in prayer.” Paul tells the Christians in Rome how they should manage themselves under afflictions; namely, to endure them patiently and to rejoice in the hope of their deliverance and/or future happiness. These are to be accomplished through constant prayer. What Paul states in verse twelve sums up the three different mental states of a Christian; a mental state of hope; the mental state of patience in times of tribulations; and a mental state of always being prayerful. Of the twenty verses devoted to the subject of our relationship with others this is the only one which refers to the inner secrets of the Christian life. We need to make note of this again because our mental state affects everything we do.
Let’s talk about the first mental state of “rejoicing in hope.” Hebrews 3:6 says, “But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God is one of the few things in this world that can make a believer cheerful in spite of their circumstances. This is placed between serving the Lord and being patient in tribulation because nothing tends to make us move more than when we are cheerfully serving Him versus focusing on our troubles. This rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God gives us the patience we need when we are dealing with tribulations and we will have times of tribulations.
As Christians, we experience joy because we have hope. Do you realize that it is our duty as Christians to be joyful? We often think that being joyful is a matter of someone’s temperament or the result of someone’s circumstance. In this thinking we are glad when things go well with us and are unhappy when they do not. If we have a sunny disposition and are naturally light-hearted, great; however, if we have a melancholy or morose disposition, all the worse. But do we recognize that a Christian who is not joyful is not living up to their duty as a Christian? And please understand, there is no excuse, either in temperament or in circumstance, for our not being joyful. Being joyful does not mean you’re always happy. Our joy is in a hope that far exceeds what we experience in this world and therefore our times of pain are viewed as temporary. Our ability to rejoice in all situations comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul told the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7) In these verses Paul let it be known that rejoicing can be a constant state of a Christian’s mind. If we are mentally rejoicing, we will not be in a state of constant worrying or depression. Worrying and rejoicing cannot occupy the same mental space within our minds. We are either in one state or another. For example, your child is traveling in bad weather and you’re stressing about whether they are safe. Then you receive the phone call informing you that they made it to their destination safely. What happens? All of the worrying ceases and you begin to rejoice internally that they made it to their destination. What Paul was telling us as Christians is that we should always be in a state of mind of rejoicing, even in the worst of times because our hope is not in our circumstances but in God through His Son Jesus Christ. And yes, I know this is not something that is easily done.