We continue to look at how to properly respond to God’s great mercy toward us by becoming living sacrifices, which is holy and pleasing to God and is our true worship. “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.” (Rom 12:1-3)
In order to discern the revealed will of God, we must be transformed in the renewal of our minds. Understanding and embracing the truth of the Bible, applying this truth in real life, and overflowing spontaneously with Biblical love and holiness requires not a new list of behaviors, but a new mind and new heart. In verse 3, Paul prepares us for today’s Scripture when he tells us: “not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one”.
What’s the alternative in Paul’s mind to thinking too highly of ourselves? It’s not thinking lowly of ourselves. Instead it is to think “as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one”. It’s not about looking at ourselves, even our “new man”. Instead we are to think sensibly using the measure of faith the Lord chose gift to us, and look to Christ who said: “I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44).
We’re continuing to look through the bullet-point commands Paul gives on how our lives to transform our minds to discern God’s perfect will (Rom 12:1-2). “Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Rom 12:9-14)
In putting aside our own will to live our lives as a living sacrifice for Christ, the Holy Spirit is making us more and more like Christ. As our hearts and minds are transformed from our carnal selves, we are able to “bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse”. Blessing someone is not just the way we treat someone who treats us badly, it includes the longings that we have for someone. And Jesus says they are to be longings for good, not longings for a curse. Instead, we are to want the same thing for others that Christ does: “God our Savior, wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4).
The normal human instinct, of course, is to do the opposite. We feel the natural desire to curse those who hurt us and to avoid doing good for them at all costs. Christians who follow Paul’s teaching here, instead, will stand out in almost every culture. We will be imitating both Jesus’s words and His example, as He carried this principle even to the extent of praying for the well-being of His enemies (Luke 23:34). Nothing communicates sincere love back to a brother or sister who is being hurtful than doing good for them and refusing to strike back at them.
Lord, let me remember that when others treat me poorly, instead of treating them the same, I am to want them to be blessed as You do. Lord, you want all to come to the knowledge of truth, and You are the truth, the way and the light. Lord, when someone hurts me, please help me remember instead to pray for them so that they may come to the Father through You, the only way. In this way, Lord, let Your light shine through me. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.