Friday, May 26, 2017

Your Best Life

Romans 12 is one of those wonderful, practical chapters of the Bible that I like to read often! I know the post is a bit lengthy, but I thought it most useful to include the Bible verses that I am talking about. 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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 (verses 1-2).

What does it mean to offer your bodies as living sacrifices? Under the law of Moses, the animals offered as sacrifices were completely burned up, or consumed, with fire. I think that being a LIVING sacrifice means to be consumed with your calling. It's up to you to ask yourself-- am I one-hundred percent dedicated to God? Does my life line up with His will? Are there areas of my life that I know are displeasing to God but I'd prefer to ignore?

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully (verses 5-8).

A necessary trait in discipleship is humility. Without it, it is quite difficult, if not impossible, to show love to God and to our neighbor. It often comes natural to humans to look down on those who appear "weaker" or less capable. We must catch ourselves and realize that this kind of thinking is completely out of line with God's thinking. Each of us has different gifts, different strengths, different weaknesses. We must not call gifts that are different than ours bad. While not everyone may be living up to their gifts, it is not our job to judge, but to encourage the members of the church. As for us, we are responsible for doing our gifts to the BEST of our abilities.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (verses 9-21).

Are there any more practical verses in the Bible? Paul lays out discipleship in 10 simple verses. But as we know, it's not so simple. True discipleship does not come easily, it does not come naturally, and it certainly does not come without God's help. I wish I could give you the 5 Steps to Perfect Discipleship, but I'm not nearly there myself. As Jesus says, it's easy to love the one who loves you back. It's not so easy to love the one who hurts you, who does evil to you. That is "agape"-- self-sacrificial love. It is a love that is only attained when we love people not because they DESERVE love, but because God has instructed us to love. 

We love because He first loved us.

It cannot come from our own strength, but when we choose to "cling to what is good." When we do so, God finds us and He gives us strength. He knows that we cannot live a life fulfilled without loving others. We are instructed to go out and DO and LOVE. Your best life is lived in the service of others. Become less obsessed with your needs and desires and find joy.

When you put others first, you are in the best place you can be. You are in His arms. He knows our hearts-- surrender to His instructions and find yourself fulfilled, overcome with His love, overflowing with joy

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