Romans 12:1-2 Discovering our calling
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Paul begins a new segment of his letter by emphasizing the importance of having a right attitude when it comes to serving in the church community. Our service must be birthed out of the mercies of God that we have freely received; not out of obligation or to merit greater blessings, but out of an attitude of gratitude and surrender. This new mindset of gratitude and surrender towards God runs counter to the worldly messages of personal gain and self-centered living. Only with this new mindset, could we understand God’s calling for our lives which is glorious and abundant.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God…
Paul exclaimed that having seen the mercies of God where God refused to give up on the Jews even as they rebelled against Him continually; having seen God’s patience towards those (like the Pharaoh) who challenged God’s authority without fear or respect; having witnessed God’s unbiased love towards the Gentiles where He adopts us as His people and blesses us the same way as He did to the Jews; let us then present ourselves wholly and unreservedly to God and to serve Him.
… to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Paul uses the analogy of a sacrifice which both the Jews and Gentiles could identify with. A sacrifice is an animal that has lost its right for self-preservation but is wholly dedicated to please the One being worshiped. We, who are the recipients of God’s mercies must surrender our personal life agenda and to live according to God’s agenda.
Why should believers give themselves as a sacrifice? Jesus Christ gave Himself unreservedly and wholly to God as a sacrifice and payment for our sins. We who benefitted from His sacrifice must in turn give of our lives to serve Him. Because God has redeemed us for Himself, we no longer should live for our own agenda but for God’s.
Such a sacrifice that is born out of gratitude and honor for God pleases Him: acceptable to God. The word “living” highlights the difference between the animal sacrifices and the believer’s sacrifice. In animal sacrifices, the animal gives itself resulting in the death of itself. In the sacrifice of the believer, he surrenders Himself as a living being to do God’s will by turning away from a lifestyle that leads to death. The believer’s lifestyle of love and obedience led by the Spirit is indeed the act of true worship.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…
Do not follow the mentality of this world: do not be conformed to this world! What is this mindset that Paul is addressing? It is the mindset of self-centered living, of being submerged in the cares of life apart from God’s purposes. Some churchgoers knew God’s purposes for their lives, but did nothing about it. Yet, many still have absolutely no idea or desire to understand or pursue God’s calling for their lives. They supposed the whole idea about salvation is merely to receive God’s blessings and protection so as to free them to pursue their own business apart from God’s plans for them. The mindset of this world says: it is all about Me. The mindset of God says: it is all about God and His Kingdom.
Therefore, having experienced the mercies of God, we must renew our mind to reject self-centered living and to discover God’s plans for our lives on a daily basis.
… so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
“So that you may prove what the will of God is… ” can be paraphrased as: so that you may experience the will of God, that which is good, … The believer’s life can be abundant, perfectly satisfying and fulfilling provided we live according to God’s plans. The way to discover God’s plans is first to change our mindset; my life and its activities must revolve around God.
1. As a living sacrifice, we first seek to become the person that God wants us to be. Our goal in life is to acquire the mindset and the character of Christ: be transformed by the renewing of your mind. In other words, what is Christ’s goal and attitude towards work? How does Christ handle oppositions and threats? How does Jesus relate to others who are different from Him? What are the purposes of Christ’s life? What did He do to reach out to those who need help? In our daily meditation of the word, we seek to understand Christ’s mindset, attitudes and His passions so that we could imitate Him.
2. Secondly, as a living sacrifice we seek to discover God’s calling for our life. Each believer’s calling (the will of God) is different; Jesus’ calling is to die on the cross in Jerusalem; Paul’s calling is to preach in Rome despite the dangers that befall him. Although, we may not fully understand our calling, but God will reveal to us in greater clarity as we remain faithful to the tasks at hand. God’s calling for my wife and I is to write devotional materials in order to help believers read the bible from cover to cover. The second part is to bring the gift of miracles and healing to the whole of Myanmar. The third part is to make disciples who would forsake the cares of life to fulfill God’s calling for them. By renewing our mind according to the mindset of Christ, we begin to discover God’s calling for our lives and to fulfill it: so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
3. Our spiritual service of worship is first to honor God and to be grateful for His love and sacrifice. Secondly, to give of our time and resources to serve the people. First and foremost, what truly pleases God is not the amount of time and resources we give to Him but the heart that is united with His Spirit in love and obedience. Hence, our spiritual service is revealed through our attitude towards the small and seemingly insignificant tasks and our attitude towards people. What is your motive of your service towards God and the church? Is it to show others how spiritual you are? Or is it to attract God’s favor into your life? Is your attitude in service solely to accomplish your tasks or to edify and to build the church?
1. Write on paper as clear as you can what God has impressed upon you at this time concerning His calling for your life. You may not know the fine details of your vocation, but you could describe your passions that relates to helping others and evangelism.
2. Write on paper your fears that hinder you towards this calling. Request your mentor’s help in guiding you to overcome these fears.
Dear Lord, I want to thank you for giving Your life as a sacrifice to redeem me from death. I now surrender myself as a living instrument for Your use. Help me to renew my mind and understand Your calling for me. Strengthen me to serve and to be a blessing to the community. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.