Chapter 12

Practical Exhortations

A Call to Commitment: (Romans 12:1-2) 
Paul explained 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 salvation but to bring transformation in life.  Paul wants his readers to respond to God's gracious message of 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 themselves 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.  When we think of what God has done for us , it is not too much to ask? God does not count our sins against us because He did count them against His only Son. Forgiveness is free to us but costly to God. 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 (Romans 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 by God because we are in Christ.  Worship is not a mindless spiritual exercise. Apostle exhorts believers not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.  It requires us to resist copying  the behavior and customs of this world. We are always tempted to assimilate the sinful tendencies of this world system. Christians must have a different mindset.  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 system. This world is under the control of Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4). We should be transformed by renewing our mind by changing the way we think (12:2). Then we will know what God wants us to do and how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. The aim of the gospel message is not to give merely head knowledge, but to bring a transformed life. Believers are a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). This will result in our ability to follow God's will.     

Transformed Life is a Life of Humility: (Romans 12:3-8)
Paul exhorts believers to use their spiritual gifts for the edification of the church. As part of the church family, we are like members of the body and our fellow believers should be benefited  through us. We have been blessed with spiritual gifts to benefit others.  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 among believers is the death-nail of usefulness to others (2 John 1:9).  We are not spectators but participants to make a difference in the church. Each believer has a different work to do and they belong to each other. A renewed mind sees value for his life through the lenses of God’s mercy and grace (Galatians 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 (Romans 12:7). Gifts are to be used for the progress of the church. They are not given for the performance to attract people but for the edification of others. Paul gives instructions for the use of various gifts here. In the distribution of gifts, we see unity, plurality, diversity, and harmony. We should love each other as Christ has loved us (Ephesians 4:32). We should serve as Christ has served us (Mark 10:45).

Prophecy is the gift of the utterance of the faith that God is speaking through you (Jude 1:3).

The gift of serving others is serving others well with a servant's heart. Mark 10:45.

The gift of teaching is teaching  the Word of God in an understandable way to the unlearned. 

The gift of exhortation is to encourage others to obey the instructions. Teaching and exhortation will go hand in hand. Teaching gives information and instruction.  Exhortation not only instructs but also encourages obedience.

The gift of giving is giving generously. Christians do not give to gain influence or for recognition.

Those who have the gift of leadership must take their responsibility seriously.

The gift of mercy is helping others with gladness.

Transformed life is a life of Love: (Romans 12:9-16) 
Love is the mark of the Christian community (John 13:35). 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 on earth.  Love must be without hypocrisy.  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. Christians should never be lazy, but  keep our spiritual zeal alive  by spending time with God's people in fellowship and prayer. We should rekindle our zeal with constant input from God's Word (Luke 24:32).  We should serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in all circumstances. Be patient in tribulation and be prayerful. Show genuine concern for the poor and contribute to their needs. Seek to show hospitality to strangers (Genesis 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.  Serve the Lord as you have been motivated by the great love of Christ (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:14). 
Transformed life shows Kindness to Enemies: (Romans 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 such a way that everyone can see you are honorable and the Christian testimony is not 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 Peter 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 the government upholding the law. Christians are advised to show kindness to their enemies.  Do not be overcome evil by evil, but overcome evil with good (12:21).  In doing so, "you shall heap burning coals on their head" (Proverbs 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! ​