WEEK FOUR, DAY FOUR, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK FOUR THEME: SERVING
DAY FOUR THEME: GIFTS FOR SERVICE
SCRIPTURE: ROMANS 12 (CEB)
“So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is – what is good and pleasing and mature.
Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other.
We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. If you gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.
Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic – be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome stangers into your home. Bless people who harass you — bless and don’t curse them. Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying.
Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good.
If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people. Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, ‘Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord.’ Instead, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head.’
Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: These amazing verses just make us want to go out and conquer the world. They encourage us to get out of ourselves and live for God. They recognize that being a follower of Christ is not all rosebuds and rainbows. After all, the rosebuds come with thorns and the rainbows show up with stormy weather.
As a human race, we are going to disagree – we have all been brought up with different traditions, we worship in differering ways, even within the same denominations. We serve best as we identify our own giftedness and flow within those boundaries. We grow strong in our relationship with God only as we are wiling to keep going deeper in our relationship with God.
To accept Christ and then just check off that box of salvation will only lead us to stagnation and disappointment. Our relationship with our Father is an ongoing, maturing, developing, living thing. It is not a “once and done” event. In our humanity, we aren’t just born and then that’s it. We keep growing and learning and developing and failing and succeeding. We start out on liquids and over time, with growth and development we are able to take on solid food and function at a higher level of maturity becoming more and more independent in our living.
Likewise with our faith, we have to feed off of others at first to gain understanding and begin to wrap ourselves around what God would have us do and how God would have us be. In time, we have to break away from others’ thnking and opinions and develop our own individual relationship with God who will form and shape us into what He has in mind. He will gift us for our own individual ministry and put us in the places where that ministry will blossom for the sake of His own Kingdom. We will be a piece of His great force that reaches out embracing further and further into all of humanity.
As we take time to enhance our relationship with our Heavenly Father, we will learn His voice through His word. We will read familiar passages, but hear them differently, individually, shaping our own outreach, mission. Paul’s words here encourage us to embrace the part of the body of Christ that we are called to be and they give us hints for navigating life when we aren’t quite sure.
Our attitudes of commonality and respect outweigh any need for revenge and superiority. I love where it says that the one showing mercy should be cheerful… I can imagine – like with Jonah – being a resistent giver of mercy. God’s ways are simple, yet we make them difficult because of our human filters, our judgments.
When we can agree within our own selves that God is God and that our understanding will always be limited in this lifetime and do as God would have us do without reservations and conditions, our walk becomes a whole lot easier. We don’t have all the excess duties of judgment and rules and regulations. We are free to love and serve as we would like to be loved and served.
We are blessed to be a blessing. Let us lay aside our filters and cautions and allow God to use us as His vessels of grace and mission. Help us, Lord!