Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.
I’m not sure about you, but some scriptures remind me of certain people. Romans 12 will forever be associated with a sweet couple who were our life group leaders about ten years ago. There aren’t too many people on this planet with as much grace as these two. This is one of my favorite passages as it reads in The Message:
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. (Romans 12:1-2, MSG).
Place your life before God, everything about your life. You’ll be changed from the inside out. You will be transformed as you rise above the messiness of the world’s ways and prioritize God’s plan.
The Passion Translation says “Live in holiness experiencing all that delights His heart.” Can we make it our goal to delight His heart? Not with works, nor a tally where we keep score. Rather, just to live every single day as if we are serving God, because we are. Paul’s reminder of these actions is noted in another letter. “Put your heart and soul into every activity you do, as though you are doing it for the Lord himself and not merely for others. For we know that we will receive a reward, an inheritance from the Lord.” (Colossians 3:23-24, TPT).
This also reminds me of Deuteronomy 6:6. The Old Testament Torah encourages us to teach our children God’s law, the Sh’ma, at all times of the day, every day… when you’re waking up, walking along the road, riding bikes in the park, sitting at the dinner table, going to bed… at all times and all the time.
Place your life before God, everything about your life. You’ll be changed from the inside out.
The second half of Romans 12 is worth highlighting the whole text! Paul is being very “Solomon-esque” with short, little proverbs to encourage flourishing interconnectedness in our relationships. Each thought is written to encourage our getting along with others. Here’s a delightful list of beautiful things to do today. For yourself. And for each other. It’s very poetic, actually.
Be fueled up.
I continue to be reminded about the context of these readers. First Century Rome was very much like 21st Century New York City. It was the center of the world, filled with great opulence and excess. Likely also filled with great poverty and depression. Healthy relationships in that kind of environment, especially, are key to happiness and life fulfillment. Our role in this world can be summed up in this one directive: “Never let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.” (Romans 12:21, TPT).
While this may seem impossible, with the grace of Jesus redeeming us and the power of the Holy Spirit in us, this is not hypothetical! So, do not be discouraged. As the Evangelist noted a few chapters earlier, nothing will separate us from God’s love or His purpose. Today and throughout every day of our life!
© 2020. Rich Ronald.