#DailyDevotion By The Mercies Of God Be Living Sacrifices
12 I appeal to you, fellow Christians, by the mercies of God, to give your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, and so worship Him as thinking beings. 2Don’t live like this world, but let yourselves be transformed by a renewing of your minds so you can test and be sure what God wants, what is good and pleasing and perfect. 3As God gave me His gift of grace for every one of you, I tell you, don’t think too highly of yourselves, but take a sane view of yourselves, everyone according to the measure of faith God gave you. 4We have many parts in one body, and these parts don’t all do the same thing. 5In the same way, many as we are, we are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. 6We have gifts that are different according to what His grace gave us.
Chapters 12 and following are completely based then on everything spoken and taught in chapters 1-11. Paul is not speaking to the world but to Christians who have been taught everything that has preceded this. What follows, the instructions he gives Christians is based on this one phrase here, “by the mercies of God.” This might bring to mind of a recent lectionary reading from the Old Testament where God appeals to the mercies of David. Mercies here is a different word in the Greek which also has the overtones of compassion, from the gut. Probably the most important part it is from God. The mercies of God here summarize all of what preceded this chapter.
So based on the fact that God has had mercy on us and even more so by the agency, or empowerment and transformation of our total being by these mercies, Paul instructs us to give our bodies as a living, holy, pleasing sacrifice to God. We are not offering ourselves on altars to be sacrificed and burnt, though the world may do that to us. No it is in the daily living of our lives which is offered to God as a reasonable worship and service to him and to our fellow man. Part of this is not living like the rest of the world. The world lives by tit for tat. You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours and you hit me once I hit you back twice. There is no mercy or grace in the world.
The LORD Jesus has given us a new mind and has begun transforming it to his likeness and image. Paul instructs us to let the LORD by the Holy Spirit to continue to transform our minds to his. We do that by being in his word, receiving the sacraments and trusting what God has promised there. This is enable us to test what God wants us to do. Unlike the Israelites he has given a laundry list of things to do and not do, and while Paul here in Romans and other letters gives us a few lists and dos and don’ts , these are never meant to be exhaustive or restrictive. We have been commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves and to love our brothers and sisters in Christ in particular. The running theme in how we should act is that we not think too highly of ourselves but a sane view of ourselves. Recognize the talents and abilities God has given you and use them to serve others out of mercy, kindness, love, patience and the like just as God in Christ Jesus has served you. When you are not sure what that looks like, you do have the lists, both the Ten Commandments, the Sermons of the Mount and Plain and Paul’s lists. Having exercised yourself in these things when something new comes up you can ask yourself, how can I show mercy and love in this situation as the Lord has had mercy on me.
Heavenly Father, by your great mercies you have called us to be your holy people. By your mercies now in Christ Jesus renew our minds so we many think your thoughts and do your works here and now to your glory and praise. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.