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I am going to resist the temptation to restate the thesis of this three-part article and direct you back to Part One. There you will find a useful introduction and the individual application of what we are calling the anchor (think house, not ship) of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome.

Part Two explores the bridge between the individual application of Part One and the community application we are exploring in this last part. The order is important – individual application working its way into the corporate body. So, once you have read Parts One and Two, you should be ready to dig in here.

Community Application

As we begin, it is important to note that, as it is with individuals, fellowships small, large, and in between, are also instructed and encouraged to offer themselves to God – to be used as corporate instruments of His sacrificial love. Furthermore, resisting conformity with the world and being transformed are best accomplished in community. In fact, it is impossible for individuals who are “members of one another” to be transformed separate from one another.

Now on to Romans 12:4-8.

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:4-8

The “for” found at the beginning of this passage connects our humble and sober thinking to our functioning as God intends in the community of faith. Some members may have more visibility or a seemingly more important function; others, less. In humility, we recognize that this is an unimportant consideration. Indeed, as we learn from 1Corinthians 12:23, greater honor is bestowed on those we think to be less honorable. This is sober thinking.

There are three considerations here that warrant our attention. First, there is our unity. We are not only members of “one body in Christ”, but “individually members of one another”. Spiritually, regardless of function, there are no boundaries between us. Our unity is a mystery beyond reason; only by faith and practice do we know it to be true.

Through faith, we function together in the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God (Ephesians 4:13). This is the desire, vision, and attitude of Jesus Christ. As we lay hold of the mind of Christ, we are anchored to the theological foundation, in Romans one through eleven, that He has established for our life in community. Read the rest of this entry »

Reading through Part One of this article, I discovered an oversight. Having referenced Romans 12:1-3 as the personal perspective of the Romans “anchor”, I failed to comment on verse three. As it turns out, verse three can be viewed as a bridge. So, rather than go back and update Part One, we will cover it here before exploring the church-in-fellowship perspective of Romans 12:4-8 in Part Three.

Those of you that have not already read Part One will find it a useful introduction. The order is important – individual application working its way into the corporate body. Furthermore, there is a connection between the renewal of our mind (Romans 12:2) and the way we are to think in the community of faith.

Humble and Sober Thinking

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3

As we endeavor to transition from theology to its practice, we must consider our mind and how it thinks. We have already learned from verse two that our mind requires renewal; it is not prepared for the life our theology requires. For many, this is a bitter pill to swallow. We have been encouraged since our formative years to trust our minds and our innate ability to reason. Our carnal mind has convinced us that it deserves the control most of mankind has given it.

We think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. We desperately need to sober up and recognize that much of our thinking is humanistic. Even in the church, we have come to rely on the doctrines of man. We attempt to live out of our reason, rather than our faith. It is high time we become suspicious of the way we think, because much of our thinking is outside the faith.

Consequently, the introduction of faith at the end of the verse above would seem strange to many in the church. What does a measure of faith have to do with the way we think? Our perplexity demonstrates how far we have drifted from the truth concerning our heart and mind. We have allowed our blame-shifting carnal mind to convince us that our heart is corrupt.

But, how can this be? What do the Scriptures tell us? Read the rest of this entry »

“And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. Mark 12:30

Would you agree with me that we should love the LORD more? Of course you would (who wouldn’t?). There is a desire in the heart of every child of God to love Him more, each and every day.

I regularly ask the LORD to give me grace to love Him more. Recently, He helped me express this desire in a [more specific prayer] (based on Mark 12:30).

In response to my prayer, He has begun to encourage/challenge me in each area: heart, soul, mind and strength. I offer the following spiritual exercise in the hope that it will help you in your own pursuit to love Him with your all.

I am confident that this simple exercise will profit you much in your following after Jesus Christ. Mediate on the passages; and prayerfully consider the questions. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you.

God bless you in it.

Loving the LORD with all your heart: It is with the heart that man believes (Romans 10:10). You have been given a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26); capable of loving Him more. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Question: Is there a word you have from God that you have not acted upon?

Loving the LORD with all your soul: Our soul includes our will (inc., desires and perceived rights) and our emotions (feeling, affections and aversions). God is working in you to will and do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). “Soul” sometimes appears as “life”; as in Luke 17:33: He who seeks to save His life (i.e., soul), will lose it. Jesus said, “Take My yoke…and you will find rest for your soul” (Matthew 11:29). Mary’s heart magnified the LORD (Luke 1:46). Question: Are there desires and rights that you have yet to surrender?

Loving with all your mind: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). If then, you were raised with Christ… set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:1-2). Questions: Is there an earthly thing that you have set your mind on, that needs to be replaced in your attention by a heavenly thing?

Loving with all your strength: Present your bodies a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). Christ desires to be magnified in your body – by life or by death (Philippians 1:20). Your body is a member of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Corinthians 6:15,19). Question: Have you presented your body to magnify Christ, as you carry Him and the Holy Spirit with you into the world?

God has been speaking to me in each of these areas. I hope to share some of these at a later date. He has expressed His pleasure each time I have responded humbly and obediently to His instruction.

I pray the same for you. Read the rest of this entry »

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