Summary: Since we’ve been saved so that we can serve, it’s important for us to understand how God has wired us. When we serve in ways that maximize who we are, and what we’ve been given, the church will be fortified and we’ll experience fruitfulness and fulfillmen
Understanding Your Shape
During experiments aboard the space shuttle “Columbia,” scientists discovered that there are twenty-six lakes underneath the Sahara desert. It’s heartrending to think of the people who are starving and dying of thirst because these hidden resources have not yet been tapped.
In a similar way, there are a number of spiritual resources that lie untapped in our church and in our individual lives because we’ve simply not gone deep enough. My fear is that we’re missing out on what the Christian life is all about. Some of us are settling for something far less than what God intended.
During this series called, Improving Your Serve, we’ve been looking at some ways that we can ramp up our servanthood quotient. Last week we focused on four ways to become a servant:
Check our motives
Put others first
Follow the example of Christ
This morning we’re going to see that in order to effectively serve we must make sure that we’ve surrendered to Christ and that we have a proper estimation of self. In other words, we must first go deep before we can go long. Please turn in your Bibles to Romans 12:1-8.
Fully Express Your Surrender to God
We see in verses 1-2 that we must fully express our surrender to God. Before God wants your service He wants a guarantee that He really has you: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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.”
Whenever you see the word “therefore” in the Bible you should always ask what it’s there for. When we come to chapter 12 of Romans, Paul is making a shift from doctrine to practice. He follows a similar pattern in the books of Ephesians and Colossians when he establishes doctrine in the first part of the letter and then moves to application in the second half. Theology is never meant to be cold and lifeless. It must always have a practical application. It’s as if he’s saying, “Based on everything that I’ve just said, this is what you now need to put into practice.”
There are at least four “therefores” in the book of Romans:
Romans 3:20 is the “therefore” of condemnation: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” Romans 5:1 is the “therefore” of justification: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 8:1 is the “therefore” of assurance: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And Romans 12:1 is the “therefore” of surrender. Paul is saying that even though we are guilty and deserve to die, we have been declared righteous through faith in Christ and will never face condemnation. Based upon the entire argument in chapters 1-11, we should fully surrender our lives to Him.
The immediate context is the wonderfully deep doxology found at the end of chapter 11: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond finding out…for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory! Amen.”
Based on all that God has done, Paul says, “I urge you, brothers…” Even though Paul could have used a command here, he instead makes an appeal. He does a similar thing in Ephesians 4:1: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” This word means to “call near” or “to invite.” Notice that he refers to them as “brothers,” indicating his affection for them as members of God’s family. He’s begging believers, not unbelievers, to do something that has not yet been done.
He makes this plea “in view of God’s mercy.” The original word used here for “mercy” is actually plural and refers to God’s multitude of mercies. He is not merciful just once but again and again. He is consistently and constantly full of mercy. John Calvin once said that we will never worship with a sincere heart or serve God with unbridled zeal until we properly understand how much we are indebted to God’s mercy. God has demonstrated so much mercy to us that we can’t help but respond by fully surrendering our lives to Him.
It’s interesting that Paul doesn’t say, “In light of God’s grace” but instead focuses on mercy. Why is that? God’s grace is demonstrated when we get what we don’t deserve, whereas His mercy is what keeps us from getting what we do deserve. Micah 7:18: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”