Paul has written 3/4 of the letter to the Romans telling us what God has done for us. What is that, which comes before the “therefore” of 12:1? Could you summarise it? John 3:16 might serve. Paul might quote Rom. 5:8 “God showed His great love for us by sending Jesus Christ to die for us, while we were still sinners.” He might add 5:11 “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because the Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends with God.” (NLT)
Now Paul tells us how we should live to please God as true friends always do. What does that entail? How do you know God’s will for you, which is good, pleasing and perfect? 12:2. Well, “don’t take your example from the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think,” Paul says v.2.
What’s wrong with the way I think and the way most people think? All too often I think only about myself, about what pleases me. I want this or that; maybe I don’t want to do this or that. It’s me, me, me, most of the time. God knows what is best for you and me, and what pleases Him. So He changes our thinking and enables us to put what we desire into the right order. That is what these chapters (12-15) are all about.
Chapter 12 can be summarised by v.10 “Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honouring each other.” So here’s how we can be sure that God is pleased with us and how we can show our thanks for all He has done for us. We / you put Jesus first; Others next; and Yourself last. And what do we get as a bonus? Not only God’s approval but also JOY!
When we think rightly, we live and act rightly. That’s the ABC of Christian Living.
Chapter 13 could also be summarised by v.10; “Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfils the requirements of God’s law.” Chapter 14:10 is very challenging about how we think of others; “Why do you look down on another believer? Remember we will all stand before the judgement seat of God.”
However, 14:17 confirms the ABC of Christian Living in these words: “The Kingdom of God (where Jesus is King, first and foremost) is … a matter of living a life of goodness and peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you too.” (NLT) Remember Jesus first, Others next, Yourself last. Let God change the way you think.
(When I shared these thoughts with our connect group, I told them of a very special act of selflessness shown to me by a 3 yr, old girl. Finding the first ripe tomato in her father’s greenhouse, she never boasted about it or kept it for herself, but immediately reached it to me, a complete stranger, saying she wanted me to have it. That really blessed me and gave me joy. And she was blessed and joyful in her giving.)
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