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Romans 12 (NIV)
12 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. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This week we will complete our study of God’s discipleship path by looking at some of the key passages which teach us about sacrificial service to others, especially the poor and helpless. One of the keys to thinking about this is to remember the change that Jesus brings to how we make offerings to God. In the Old Testament, you would offer some of your possessions to God, perhaps by sacrificing a lamb or goat, to make amends with God for your sins. Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross makes that unnecessary – he made amends for all of our sins. But we are still called to sacrifice, only now we are sacrificing our entire lives, giving all that we have, not to God, but to our neighbor in need. The 12th chapter of Romans is one of the principle teachings on this. Paul says to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice”. He then explains what this entails: having a renewed mind, using our gifts to serve others generously and cheerfully, sharing and blessing others. As you go through Paul’s long list of ways we can make an ‘offering’ of service, ask God to show you in which area you may be ‘holding back’ and pray for the grace to serve sacrificially in that area as well.