Romans – “Therefore”
As infants we are dressed, fed, redressed, fed, dressed again, and fed again. The daily cycle doesn’t stop for the first few months of life. Someone must do everything for us. As we grow, we are given very small things to try to do ourselves such as hold the bottle we are drinking. We progress to holding the spoon, upside down, as we try to shove food in our mouth. We aren’t good at it yet, but we are given a chance to try. Our parents begin to stand us up by a couch and beg us to take that first step. We try to stand on our shaky legs and fall. We try and fall many times until that first step is taken out of sheer determination and love for the parents who want us to do it so badly.
Our love is building for these people in our lives because of their love for us. They are meeting our every need in the best way they can. They freely give hugs and kisses of affirmation of that love. They have given us our identity as belonging to them. We are because they are. When we can’t see them, we cry. Our complete focus is on the ones who love and care for us.
In the first five years of life, the most impressionable years, we begin to see what our parents do. We know who they are, but we are now focusing on what they do. We begin to mimic their behavior. We know who we are and now we are learning what to do.
So it is with rebirth. We repent of our wrong DOINGS (sin) so that we can now BE in a new relationship as one of God’s children. We are because He is. God, the Father begins to teach us to walk and talk more like Jesus, His Son, who came to earth to teach and be the example of what to do after learning to be. We understand the depth of God’s love by the sacrifice of His Son for us. Transformation begins to take place in us and through us, developing us in our life forever with God.
All of Paul’s letters to the people who gather in Jesus Name, called His church, have the same method of teaching. Paul expounds on who we are to BE in Christ, because of our love for Him and His love for us in the first few chapters then in the middle of it all there is the “THEREFORE” and it is there for a reason. Now, beginning with chapter 12 (chapters for us, for this was one long letter without chapters in the first writing), Paul begins to tell us what to DO as children of God who desire to give God glory, give God back all the love He deserves, if that is possible, and to show others how to find and follow Jesus for their lives by what we DO.
BE then DO. We cannot DO until we BE with the One who loves us most. BEING with the Master means learning the depth of the love He has for us. The more we realize who we are and how much we are loved, greater and deeper is our love for others. We begin to DO selfless things that we normally wouldn’t think of doing. We are being transformed by Christ who lives in us. We have a new identify. We are BEcoming more and more, in every way like Christ. Hallelujah! Praise God! We cannot do anything by ourselves, but with Christ living in us, the possibilities are limitless!
God, like a parent who helps their child take that first step, wants to help us.
Romans 12, The Message
Place Your Life Before God
1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
6-8 If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
Therefore, what do we do?
–Give all of ourselves back to God so He can help us.
–Embrace what God does in us.
–Focus on God with eyes fixed, without glancing to the left or right, to do what He says quickly.
–Allow the transformation. Don’t quicken it or slow it down.
–Let God. In all things, let God.
–Don’t follow the crowd…off the cliff.
–Let God bring the best out of you.
–Live gratefully expectant.
–“The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.”
–We are part of the Body of Christ. BE that without comparing ourselves with others that lead to jealous thoughts, envy or pride.
–Smile, make the outside world wonder who you are and what you have!
–Love. Seriously love. Don’t fake it.
–Run from evil.
–Hold on to good. Keep doing good.
–Be good friends who love deeply…no matter what.
–Be alert and ready with passion for whatever God invites us to do.
–“Make friends with nobodies; do’t be the great somebody.”
–Assume nothing. Discover beauty and brilliance in every person.
–Don’t hit back. (We learned this in Kindergarten, folks!)
–Let God take care of all things, all people and all circumstances.
–Be generous in all things and people.
–“Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”
THEREFORE, if we took this list to heart and allowed God to help us fulfill all the activities on the list we would be revolutionary people of God to the world. But first, we must give ourselves to God as an offering to Him. God will help us DO what reflects who we are…from the inside out.
Dear Heavenly Father,
This passage of Your Word is so simple, yet profoundly challenging at times without Your help. Continue to transform me. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, and by His Power in us, Amen