Summary: The Church is the family of God. Each member ministers to one another and belongs to one another. But, if members overestimate themselves, they would damage the church and church ministry rather than edify. God called us as church to practice the love of God among ourselves and to the world.

“We minister and belong to one another” (Romans 12:1-10)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

As I start the sermon, I want us to briefly review Romans 12:1-2. We learned Christian worship is:

* Thanksgiving in response to God’s mercies in Christ. (Did you notice, it’s not God’s mercy but God’s mercies, plural? We are talking about a multitude of mercies: our being forgiven, being declared righteous, being reconciled with God, being united with Christ, being from condemnation, being a child of God, being a citizen of heaven, eternal life, His grace, the peace with God, Hope, Power, future resurrection, inheritance in heaven, and the Holy Spirit who resides in us. Jesus paid them all. John 14:6 So we give thanks to God as we count all the mercies He has given; that is worship.)

* Offering ourselves as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God in every aspect of our lives. (not just church life but, family, workplace, school, social life. )

Christian Worship is offering ourselves as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God

How to live holy? By not conforming to this world, but by being transformed by the renewal of our mind.

How to be pleasing to God? By being able to discern the will of God by the renewal of our mind.

(The key is the “renewal of our minds.” Our worship will depend on whether we renew our minds or the world controls our minds.)

How to renew our minds? By learning the mind of Jesus.

So We worship God as we learn the mind of Jesus and obey Him in order to be transformed like Him because His life is the best example of worship. (The Holy Spirit and the Scripture help us learn the mind of Jesus v.)

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. 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.

Now Paul introduced Church life as an application of the living sacrifice. And the church life has two essential aspects: v. 4 "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function." Paul talks about that each member has a different role to play, the ministry. (We minister to one another.) Then v. 5 "so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." Paul talks about the church as one body, each of whose members belongs to one another, the relationship. (We belong to one another. So verses 4 and 5 talk about the ministry of the church and the relationship of the church.)

Then, before Paul talks about the ministry and relationship of each member, he talked that each member has to have a humble attitude: v. 3 "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."

Why is it essential for us to think of ourselves no more highly than we ought? You would probably already know that many churches were damaged or even destroyed because of the church leaders who overrated themselves and took responsibilities they couldn't or shouldn't handle.

While we were living in Baja California, Mexico, Jennifer and I helped start two churches: One in Tijuana and the other in Ensenada. But the one in Tijuana suffered greatly years ago because of the pastor. He came to know the Lord through our ministry. He was energetic and working hard but was still young in faith and not prepared. But, he wanted to minister as a pastor and was named as the pastor. I myself was also partly responsible for naming him as pastor. (When I soon found out that he had made the name card with a title as a pastor even before he was officially appointed, I was concerned.) I wouldn't go over what happened with him later on, but he damaged the church a great deal: all the members were disappointed, and his wife divorced him; he almost destroyed his own family.

I am sure that many of you also know similar cases. But, Paul is warning all of us because we all tend to overestimate ourselves. While I was serving in another church, I heard some negative input on my sermon from some people, including my wife. When my wife gave me her negative but honest input on my preaching, I had difficulty accepting it. At least once, I said to her angrily, "I don't care whether you are lying or telling me the truth, but just tell me, "my sermon was good." I had a hard time accepting that I was not good at preaching. But, the thing is, I am not a rare bird among the pastors. I attended a preaching seminar to improve my sermon. And the seminar teacher told the pastors that every pastor, without exception, thinks he is a good preacher. Indeed, we all tend to overrate our gifts that we can potentially damage the church ministry.

That's why Paul encourages us to think of ourselves with sober judgment because we tend to overvalue our gifts. But we need to think of ourselves with sober judgment because we also tend to undervalue our gifts. When people underestimate their gifts and refuse to use them, you may think they are humble. But, we shouldn’t confuse being humble with underestimating ourselves. Pastor Rick Warren said, humbleness is thinking less about yourself and thinking more about others. I think pastor Rick Warren is right. Moses was typical example who undervalued the gift God had given Him and refused to use for God.

When God called Moses to send him to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt." (Exodus 3:10) Moses answer was, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Ex 3:11) Then, God promised that He would be with Moses and perform miracles and signs for Moses and His people. But, Moses kept refusing to obey saying, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The Lord did not appear to you'?" (Ex 4:1) So God demonstrated and tried to convince Moses with further evidence. Yet, Moses answered, "I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." (Ex 4:10) So God promised that He would help Moses speak and would teach Moses what to say." Yet, Moses said, "Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else."

Do you think Moses was humble? No, the Bible says, "the LORD became angry with Moses." When we undervalue God’s given gift, we refuse to serve God and His people, denying God's purpose of giving us gifts and affecting negatively Church ministry.

God has given a gift or gifts not only to people like Moses or Paul but also to every one of us because each of us has a unique role to play in the church family: Did you notice, v. 3 "by the grace given to Paul, he was giving instruction" then v. 6 says, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us"? Not only people like Paul, but we all also are given the grace to do ministry. "A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other." (1 Co 12:7 NLT) To each of us, God gave a spiritual gift to edify the church. Our church needs your gift and my gift. Our church needs your ministry and my ministry. God has gifted you and me for edifying the church.

Then, would it be possible that God became angry with some of us because we undervalued our gift and refused to use it as Moses refused? Or aren't we too lazy or too occupied with other things to recognize His gift and to use it for Him and His church?

Again, if we undervalue the gift God has given, we are denying God’s calling. As members of Christ's body, we are His hands, feet, eyes, and heart. We each have a contribution to make. But, if we don't use the gift, we are refusing His purpose. Also, we are refusing to serve other members in the church because a spiritual gift is given to help each other. (1 Co 12:7 NLT)

So we have to think of ourselves with a sober judgment that we may not overestimate or underestimate ourselves to serve the Lord and His church.

We Belong To Each Other

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. 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.

(Let's move to verse 5) Verse 5 talks about still another reason why we must not think of ourselves more highly than we ought: "so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."

Here Paul is talking about the believers in Rome as a body of Christ. Paul earlier said, "they belong to Christ." (Rom 1:6) But, then now, Paul says they belong to each other. So they all belong to Jesus Christ and also belong to each other. But, if we overrate ourselves while underrating others, we will damage not only our ministry but also our one body relationship.

That was what had happened to the church in Corinth Paul Himself had planted years earlier. The church had been known for its unusual spiritual gifts among the members, but also known as the most problematic church. Their amazing spiritual gifts had brought more damages to the body than benefits. So Paul had to write 1st letter to the Corinthian church to rebuke them and to instruct them. Paul knew that spiritual gift without a humble attitude and love could become a weapon of destruction, tearing down one another rather than edifying one another. So Paul's conclusion was: (1 Co 13) Without love, all these gifts are useless. Whether knowledge, faith, eloquent speaking, knowing mystery or knowing future, sacrificial ministry. All they are useless without love.

Now after many years, Paul was visiting Corinth and there he wrote this letter to Romans. As he wrote, he was for sure, reflecting on the problem of the church in Corinth and the priority of love. So before and after he wrote about the spiritual gifts in verses 6-8, he reminded them of how deeply they are connected to one another as church members. V. 5 "in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." (The Corinthians church members had denied this truth. But in a church,) Each member belongs not only to Christ Himself but also to one another. Each member is like a part of our body. As a part, you can't survive or function without being connected with other parts. Each member is related to one another as much as to Christ, the head of the body. (We have to remember this fact always, but especially whenever we take the Lord's supper)

Then, after Paul talked about the spiritual gift and ministry in verses 6-8, he wrote, V. 10 "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Each member is to devote himself to one another as he is devoted to Christ. There are numberless institutions in the world. But can you think of any institution where each member belongs to others, each is dedicated to others, and each honors others more than himself?

None, except family and church. The church is not one of many organizations. When you and I join ANJC, you are not joining an organization, but you are joining a family, and you are joining a body of Christ.

Some of us may feel somewhat uncomfortable with the word member or membership because the word, membership may imply joining an organization like Costco or gym or club. Indeed, so many churches function like organizations. In such churches, being a member means having their names placed in the registration roll, but nothing more. But, the Bible tells us we are members of the family of God and members of the body of Christ. And each member is like an organ of our body. Each organ can’t survive or function apart from other organs.

Unfortunately, it seems, today's church culture has reduced the meaning and importance of membership as the churches behave like an organization rather than a family. But remember, being a member means an inseparable relationship with other members as with Christ, the head of the body. The concept of being a member has originated from the Bible. Christians used the word "membership" almost two thousand years before the secular world began to adopt it for their own taste.

"Whenever a child is born, he or she automatically becomes a part of the universal family of human beings. But that child also needs to become a member of a specific family to receive nurture and care and grow up healthy and strong. The same is true spiritually. When you were born again, you automatically became a part of God's universal family, but you also need to become a member of a local expression of God's family." (as Rick Warren said)

When you are sick and weak, and when you are in need, and when you need to grow, the universal family won't help you much. You need brothers and sisters who belong to one another, devote themselves to one another, minister to one another, love and care for one another, and serve the community together.

We are called not only to believe in Jesus but also belong to His body, the church. There are only two institutions God Himself created, out of numberless institutions in the world: The family and the church. They are called to practice love within their members, reflecting God's nature of love. But, in this fallen world where so many families are ungodly and broken, the church is the only institution that would be able to reflect God's love with the love of Christ.

So you and I as a church have a great privilege and also responsibility.

I believe God called us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice as we devote ourselves to Christ and one another, and as we use our gifts to edify His church and minister the world.