Paul’s letter to the Romans is best known for its in-depth explanations of the great doctrine of salvation by faith through of the death of Christ. But after 11 chapters of such teaching, there is a change of emphasis. Paul offers a practical guide to living and loving well, based on the grace and love of God as revealed in Jesus and the gospel story: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Rom. 12:1, NIV). In effect, Paul is saying that because of what God has done for us in Jesus, this is how we should live.
Read and summarize Rom. 12:1-21, particularly noticing the instructions to love and care for others, especially those in need.
In a sense, Romans 12 acts as a summary of many of the topics Paul gives more detailed attention to in some of his other letters. He talks about the different roles and gifts within the church body, including serving and encouraging others, and giving generously (see vss. 3-8 Rom. 12:3-8). But not only should these things be done, they should be done well, with enthusiasm and—above all—with love (see vss. 9-11 Rom. 12:9-11).
Paul describes in practical terms what this kind of life is about. He urges the believers to be patient in difficulties and persecution, to care for the needy, to be peacemakers wherever and whenever possible and—as we have seen previously—to respond to evil and injustice with kindness, overcoming evil by doing good (see Rom. 12:20-21).
This chapter outlines what it means to live as a new person, serving God individually and as part of a community of faith. Paul told these new followers of Jesus that their lives, priorities, and actions should be changed because of their response to what Jesus had done for them by His death on the cross and the hope of eternal life. Living as they were in an oppressive and often cruel society in the heart of the Roman Empire, Paul instructs them to live differently: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2, NIV).
|What are some attitudes and practices you need to resist in your community to help you live and love well as a follower of Jesus today?|