April 14 (Reading for April 11-17: Romans 12, NASB). After presenting the necessity of being a “living sacrifice,” Paul in 12:3-21 described “resurrection life” in very practical terms. He first emphasized HUMILITY: “I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think” (v. 3). He then stressed why humility is so important. Even the faith we have came from God. The gifts that we have received so that we can serve God came from Him. Paul used the physical body to describe how this works. It functions by the coordinated movements of the individual members of the body. Christ’s body (the church) functions in the same way. Paul makes the point in 1 Corinthians 12:12-21 that no one part of the human body can say to any other part: “I don’t need you.” Spiritually, God has placed us into His body in a way that we need and depend on each other to function according to
His plan! When the church functions as God intended, it will be a perfect example of humility!
You will not be surprised that I love Romans 12, since 5 of the 30 reciprocal principles are there. If you have my book, “We Love Because God First Loved Us,” check out these principles:
(1) “We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (12:5; see pages 56-58 in my book).
(2) “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love” (12:10; see pages 71-73).
(3) “Give preference to one another in honor” (12:10; see pages 126-127).
(4) “Be of the same mind toward one another” (12:16; see pages 122-123). (Reflect also on the NIV’s rendering: “Live in harmony with one another”).
(5) “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (12:18). This is not stated as a reciprocal principle, but Paul also wrote it this way: “Live in peace with one another” (1 Thes. 5:13). (See pages 128-129 in the book).
Even more fundamental than humility, the resurrection life is characterized by LOVE: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (vv. 9). Life is so much better when we are motivated by love! Love leads us to do what is good. Love leads to DEVOTION, devoting time and energy to serve others. Here is a quote from my book: “Being devoted to one another in the church comes from the love of being together in the family of God” (p. 72). Love leads to HONOR. “Honor one another above yourselves” (NIV). Another quote: “When we give honor to others, it makes it easy to submit to them, because we are recognizing the worth that God has put upon each of us and upon our respective ministries for Him” (p. 127).
Paul gave many key words that describe the resurrection life. We can add to humility, love, devotion, and honor: spiritual fervor, joy, hope, patience, faithfulness, generosity, and hospitality (vv. 11-13). Paul concluded his thoughts by quoting Proverbs 25:21-22. Instead of seeking vengeance, we are advised to be kind to our enemy, and in so doing, “heap burning coals on his head” (12:20). It is true that it is difficult for most people to continue to be our enemy when they are receiving kindness from us!
These characteristics will be evident in the resurrection life because, as Paul described it in Galatians 2:20, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” That is the great truth of living the resurrection life—which should be the normal life of a Christian!
– Al Gary