A Call to Commitment: 12:1-2.
Paul explains the important teaching about the gospel and the mercies of God in the first 11 chapters of Romans. It was always Pauline practice to follow the doctrinal section with practical exhortation. It is important that doctrine should be translated into behavior. The aim of the gospel message is not to impart information about the salvation but to bring transformation in life. Paul wants the readers to respond to the gospel. "I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you". It is an appeal to believers in view of God’s mercy to present ourselves completely to God for his service. God’s mercy is His love in action. Meditating on God’s mercies towards us strengthens us to love and serve Him. God forgives our sins and does not count them against us because He did count them against His only Son. Forgiveness is free to us but costly to God. The offer of forgiveness means nothing and irrelevant unless we are convicted of our sins. In light of the mercies of God, we ought to present our whole person as a living sacrifice to God. Present here simply means to yield (Rom 6:13). It is our rational and spiritual act of worship to God. Our sacrifice should be holy and acceptable to God. We are accepted in the beloved because we are in Christ. Worship is not a mindless spiritual exercise. Apostle exhorts believers not to be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. It requires us to resist adopting and assimilating to the sinful tendencies of this world system. Christians must have a different mindset. Our bodies should be in submission to our mind. Mind is the center of decision, reasoning and affection. Our mind should be controlled by the word of God so that we may not be fashioned after this evil world. This world is under the control of Satan (2 Cor 4:4). We should be transformed by learning how to think from God's perspective, which is revealed in the Word of God (12:2). Believers are new creation In Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17). This will result in the ability to follow God's will. Only a transformed believer can understand,appreciate and delight the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
Transformed Life is a Life of Humility: 12:3-8.
Paul exhorts believers to use their spiritual gifts for the edification of the church. Spiritual gifts should be exercised in humility. A transformed believer should not think of himself more highly than he ought to think. He should not cherish exaggerated ideas of his own importance. The desire of preeminence is the death-nail of spiritual usefulness (2 John 1:9). A renewed mind sees value for his life through the lenses of God’s mercy and grace (Gal 2:20). The spiritual health of a church depends on the proper use of gifts by believers. We all do not have the same function in the church. We are one body in Christ and we belong to each other. So each of us should recognize our gift and use them for the benefit of others (Rom 12:7). Gifts are to be used for progress of the church. They are not given for the performance to attract people. Paul gives instruction for the use of various gifts here. In the distribution of gifts, we see unity, plurality, diversity, and harmony. The believers belong to each other in the church.
Transformed life is a life of Love: 12:9-16.
The transformed life enables Christians to exercise mutual love toward one another. Paul exhorts “Let love be sincere and genuine". Verses 9-21 provide a catalog of loving acts and strategies. They reflect the way we should live. Love must be without hypocrisy. Someone has said “Love is the mark of christian community” (John 13:35). Hate what is evil and hold tightly to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. We should love each other regardless of our background and status. Christians should take delight in honoring each other and consider others better than themselves. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in all circumstances. Be patient in tribulation and be prayerful. Show genuine concern to poor and contribute to their needs. Seek to show hospitality to strangers (Gen 18:2, 3). Bless those who persecute you. Do not curse them and pray that God will bless them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Do not try to show yourself important but enjoy the company of the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight and don’t think you know it all. Only a transformed and renewed believer can obey these exhortations. They love the way the Lord loves, and serve the way he serves.
Transformed life shows Kindness to Enemies: 12:17-21.
The transformed mind is a radically changed mind. Since Christians are the beneficiaries of the mercies of God, they think differently about themselves and others. Christians should never pay back evil for evil. Our natural instinct is retaliation. But we are exhorted to behave in honorable way so that our testimony should not be lost. We are advised to live at peace with everyone. Never take vengeance on our enemies but allow God to deal with them. we should pray for the salvation of our enemies (1 Pet 2:23). Here Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 32:35. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord”. There is a difference between personal vengeance and duties of government upholding the law. Christians are advised to show kindness to their enemies. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (12:21). In doing so, "you shall heap burning coals on their head" (Pro 25:21, 21). There are two lines of interpretation to this phrase. It is symbolic of penitence and change of mind. Also it is a metaphor of pain and shame brought upon themselves for what they have done. Showing kindness to those who oppose us may lead them to their conversion. Christians should overcome evil with good. Pray that God would expose our sinful motives and replace them with his love!