I urge you therefore by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is you spiritual service of worship. Rom 12:1
The words of Paul written here get preached on many a time. But have we ever learned what Paul really was saying?
A principle that I recommend for studying scripture is that when you find something vague and abstract you then need to find out the clear meaning. When you look at the word love this is truly a vague word used to suggest all sorts of actions. But scripture reveals that love consists of seeing a need of your brother or sister and potentially meeting that need.
Spiritual service of worship — this is a term that would be applicable to the priests who served in the temple. It is religious service. Yet the New Testament doesn't mention any laws of service. So where does that leave us? We must look further to what Paul is saying. We need to look for a key, not really a mystery key, but just a foothold to what Paul is saying.
The foothold is the idea of service. Not some vague service to God but a service to one another which is seen as service to God. Since God wants us to act in love to one another, our obedience to this love is our service to God.
vs 1 Paul is saying we should be willing to give up everything and even not care what happens to ourselves
vs 2 This takes a shift in thinking cause the world focuses on selfishness. We have to change our perspective. In a sense we do the opposite of what we learned as non-believers
vs 3 First we must get past pride. When we think too highly of ourselves we expect to be served rather than to serve. Romans had a problem with pride. It is interesting that Paul is saying that we can think highly of ourselves — God esteems us as His own children
vs 4 Now we learn that we are many members in one body. Paul is preparing us for the idea of service
vs 5 the parts of the body have to act together. Each joint supplies.
vs 6-8 God defines and designs how each joint supplies
The whole chapter therefore describes and inspires service to one another. Many readers have been confused because the chapter starts with such strong language. But sometimes the strong language acts as a wake-up call to the reader. And it appears that Paul was trying to wake up the Romans to the acts of service, especially as can be seen by the progression of deeper service as the epistle goes into the next two chapters.
Author: Mike Whitney
Date: 2006 09 24, modified 2007 07 18