Reading through the Bible together
This chapter begins with an appeal to all Christians to present their bodies as a living sacrifice. Paul makes this call: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” This appeal is made based on the understanding of the gospel as presented in the first eleven chapters. Whether a Jew or a Gentile, all need the gospel, and this gospel calls for reasonable service in presenting our body as a living sacrifice. This parallels the thought of what he said in Romans 6:6,7 and Galatians 2:20 to be crucified with Christ. When we present our bodies as a living sacrifice to Christ, we become transformed by the renewing of our minds and we are no longer conformed to this world. This is the conversion experience, and is the acceptable will of God.
Next, Paul admonishes Christian believers, once they have a renewed mind, not to think more highly of themselves than they ought to. The reason why, is that within the body of Christ, there are many different gifts. Not all have the same gifts and so while one may be gifted in prophecy, another may be gifted in ministry, or teaching, or exhortation, or with benevolence, or another with leadership (vs. 3-8). One gift is not superior to the other, but all are necessary for the building up of the body of Christ.
In the remaining verses of the chapter, Paul gives practical illustrations of the power of the gospel that will be seen among Christian believers. Love will be without pretense, or hypocrisy. We will hate that which is evil and will cleave, or hang on tightly to that which is good. We will have affectionate kindness toward one another with brotherly love and will place others before ourselves. We will not be lazy in our work, but be fervent in spirit as we serve God. We will rejoice in the hope that God has given us, be patient during trials, and will be in a state of prayer at a moment’s notice.
We will do the work of benevolence in giving to those who are in need and will bless our enemies rather than curse them. We will live peaceably with all men as far as possible and will feed our enemies when they are hungry. And we will overcome evil with good. We will let God decide how to discipline those who have done us wrong, because that responsibility belongs to Him. Thus, Paul gives very clear and practical illustrations of the power of the gospel. As we give our bodies as a living sacrifice to Him, we become unselfish and live out the life of Christ in how we relate to fellow believers and those in the world who do not believe.
Norman McNulty, M.D.
Neurologist, Lawrenceburg, TN, USA