Summary: The call to serving God
Improving Your Serve - Romans 12b - 3/22/09
Turn with me this morning to the book of Romans, chapter 12. We want to go on in this book written by the Apostle Paul to Christians living in Rome in the first century to tell them that we have “good news” to share with the world. God takes the righteousness of Christ and applies it to our empty, bankrupt spiritual accounts. And therefore we have hope no matter what problems we may face in this life. Here in Romans chapter 12 Paul moves on from doctrine to duty, from dealing with what we know to how we should then live as a result of that knowledge.
We saw last week that in light of God’s mercy we should live as a sacrifice -- not to give a sacrifice, to put a little extra in the offering plate -- but instead to BE a sacrifice, a living sacrifice. Paul has reminded us that we need to STOP being conformed to the world - being camouflaged to fit right in; instead, there should be something different about us, we are to be internally changed, just like a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. If we are going to seek to honor and obey God, we aren’t going to just make a few external changes to the things we do, but internally, in our hearts, we need to change and recommit to obey God.
And that’s how Paul ends verse 2 -- that when we commit to following God we will renew our thinking through the word of God -- we will start viewing things the way God views them -- and as a result we will pass the test and be able to say that God’s will is best - it is good, and pleasing, and perfect. And when we are changed to follow God’s will, it will forever change the way we view ourselves and others (as we’ll see here in chapter 12), the way we view our government (as we’ll see in chapter 13), and the way we view Christian liberty (as we’ll see in chapter 14).
Here in this 12th chapter, Paul gives us four visual images to help us picture the changed way we are to think. He first tells us we are a
sacrifice on an altar - we already saw that last week in verses 1 & 2. Then, he goes on to tell us we are a
sprig in the body, a sibling in the family, and a soldier in the battle. Today, we want to go on to look at the rest of chapter 12 and see how our thinking should change about ourselves and others. So, as we come to this chapter of God’s word, let’s pause and ask God to bless His word. Let’s PRAY.
Before we get started her today, let me ask you, if you could have three wishes for Bethel, what would they be? Think about that question today. Maybe you’d say, to have plenty of money; to triple in size; to see many people being saved; to be more loving; to have more unity. There are a lot of ideas that might be running through your mind. Whatever it is that we wish for Bethel, we understand that God is going to use US here to accomplish those things, as empowered through the Holy Spirit. Because, remember, this building is not the church, but WE are the church. It is easy to forget that each one of us collectively makes up the church.
And the first point I want us to consider this morning is that when we are changed by our commitment to follow the Lord completely, we will be
1. Serious about Serving - part of being that living sacrifice we are called to be is to minister to others through our spiritual gifts. We know that God’s will for each of us is identical in regards to holiness: we are all to be holy. But God’s will is unique for us in regards to serving. God has a special way that each one of us can uniquely serve Him. And we need to be active in serving God. Paul gives us the key idea here in verse 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 measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.