Do you ever struggle with what it means to serve the Lord? Ever feel you’re not doing enough, or that you don’t even know what to do? Do you look at other faithful members of the body of Christ and think less of yourself, comparing and measuring what God thinks of you by what you see in them?
There’s something in our human nature that draws us into the comparison trap, and the pitfalls of insecurity. I think our enemy, Satan, is good at knowing our weak spots too and is happy to send his “fiery darts” of unworthy feelings our way. And, if we don’t spend time in God’s Word, we put ourselves in open season for the spiritual battles that can steal the joy of our salvation.
That’s why I love the last few chapters of Romans (12-16). Paul is nearing the end of his letter, having laid a strong doctrinal foundation of what salvation is (and isn’t), explained how the Holy Spirit works in us to sanctify us, and cleared up any mistaken ideas the Gentile believers had about the Jews. Now he turns to the practical outworking of all this doctrine. He shows us exactly what it means to serve the Lord.
Today, I’m focusing on Romans 12. Knowing he wants to give the believers a practical list of how they should live, he goes back to his pattern of first setting down the foundational truth that will undergird the rest of what he will tell them.
Romans 12:1-2 – Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Before we can serve the Lord at any level, we must present our entire being (body, soul, and spirit) to Him. The “living and holy sacrifice” is our bodies – this physical, tangible, flesh and blood. There’s no room for an intellectual nod to biblical truth that has no effect on our physical life. Serving the Lord indeed begins with a spiritual transformation (God regenerates us and brings our spirit to life), but it is carried out in the physical, day-to-day, mundane details of our lives. This dedicated, holy way of living is worship.
This sacrifice of our physical lives is marked by a commitment to not be conformed to the world. That’s the test of true faith. Are we pressed into the mold of the culture that surrounds us? How about our views on current issues that fly in the face of biblical truth – homosexuality, gender, race? What’s our “tolerance level” of entertainment that offends God? Would we want Jesus to sit down with us and watch what we watch? Read what we read? Listen to what we listen to? Are you “woke” or awakened by the Spirit of God that lives in you? Are you more inspired by the social media influencers you follow, or by God’s Word?
Those who serve the Lord aren’t conformed but transformed. How? Our minds must be renewed so that God’s will becomes our will. The mind and the will are manifestations of our soul, that inner man of personality, will, thought, and decision that makes you, you. God’s Word is the key to renewing our minds.
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Only after we’ve settled ourselves firmly on the altar as a living sacrifice can we begin to live out the practical things Paul lays out in this chapter. We start to see ourselves as part of the body and live for others, not just ourselves. He’ll go on in the next chapters with more practical advice, but for today, take time to examine where you are in relation to Romans 12:1-2. Ask God to show you any areas that aren’t surrendered fully or any places where you’re conforming to the world rather than allowing Him to transform your thinking. Then, go and serve the Lord.