We are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. We are members of one body in Christ. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts for ministering. [UPDATED]
VERSE 1. Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.
present your bodies a living sacrifice. We are called to offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices. However, living sacrifices tend to try to crawl off the altar. Are you tempted to crawl off the altar?
holy. We are to be holy, dedicated as sacred vessels for God.
acceptable to God. Is your life pleasing to God?
which is your spiritual service. Our spiritual act of worship is those three things mentioned above: offering our body as a living sacrifice; being holy unto God; and living a life pleasing to God.
VERSE 2. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Don’t be conformed to this world. Many of us are “world-lings.” That means that we have a mindset and worldview formed largely by secular culture. We have copied the behavior and customs of this world.
be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Paul urges us to changing the way we think. We are re-program our mind to think good thoughts. We do that by habitually thinking good thoughts. This is part of how we let God transform us into a new person.
As lovers and disciples of the LORD God, we are called to develop wholesome thinking patterns. We are to renew our mind. Read more »
that you may prove what is. That is, figure it out. This is how we can know.
VERSE 3. For I say through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith.
the grace that was given me. For Paul, what mattered was the grace that God gave him. Paul was not self-centered. Rather, he was Christ-centered.
not to think of himself more highly than he ought. Some people have way too high of an esteem of themselves. They exalt themselves over and above God and other people. That is not the Christian way. The most severe manifestation of exalted love of self is called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It is pathological.
than he ought to think. There is degree of love of self that is healthy and God-given.
think reasonably. We are to have sound judgment about ourselves. Are you great at tennis? Then it is OK to admit it. To deny it would be to disagree with the truth. Are you lousy at ping-pong? Then it is OK to admit it. To say you are good at it, even though you are not, would be to disagree with the truth.
as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith. The more faith God has given you, the more you will be capable of living as this verse teaches.
VERSE 4. For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members don’t have the same function,
one body. Each of us has one body.
many members. Our one body is composed of many distinct parts: hands, lungs, elbows, feet, heart …
all the members don’t have the same function. Each distinct part of our body has its own mission. A hand does what a hand is meant to do. Our lungs do what lungs are meant to do. If we try to force our lungs to do what hands are meant to do, it will not work.
in Christ. This is key to understanding this verse. It is not talking about humanity in general. It is talking about the Christian assembly.
we, who are many. Just as the human body has many distinct parts, so too the Christian assembly includes many individual believers.
are one body. The Christian assembly is not just a bunch of individuals standing in a big room. Rather, the individual believers combine into one body. It is a body in Christ. They do not stand alone.
individually members one of another. Even though the human body has many distinct parts, the greater truth is that they are all part of one body. They are inter-connected. Each part belongs to all the others.
Similarly, even though we Christians are individual believers, the greater truth is that we are all part of the one body of Jesus Christ. We are a part of each other. We are inter-connected. We belong to each other.
VERSE 6. having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us: if prophecy, let’s prophesy according to the proportion of our faith;
gifts. The Greek word is χαρίσματα (“charismata”). It means an undeserved favor, a gift of grace. It is given to edify the church. It allows one to share God’s work with others.
1 Corinthians 12:28. God has set some in the assembly: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracle workers, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, and various kinds of languages.
differing. We do not all have the same gifts. That is by God’s design. There is no need to envy the gifts of others or try to duplicate them. Rather, the joy is in finding the gifts that God has given you, and act on them.
prophecy. The Greek word is προφητείαν (“prophēteian”). It means the gift of communicating revealed truth.
When we speak of Jesus Christ, we are acting as New Testament prophets. Those with the gift of prophecy are especially fruitful in communicating with others about Jesus Christ and the Bible. Do you have the gift of prophecy? The best way to discover is to try it out!
according to the proportion of our faith. Whatever gifts you have, exercise them to the exent your faith will allow. Rather than doing the minimal possible, why not do as much as is possible for you?
service. The Greek word is διακονίᾳ (“diakonia”). It means serving the needs of other people. It is sometimes translated as “ministry” or “ministering.”
When the church appointed seven men to wait on tables, their ministry was nicknamed from this word. They were called “deacons.”
Sadly, in our day, to be a deacon is to become an exalted leader in the local assembly. However, in the early days, it meant to be a servant and wait on tables.
Those with the gift of serving are especially fruitful when they serve the needs of others.
Do you have the gift of serving? The best way to discover is to try it out!
teaches. The Greek word is διδάσκων (“didaskōn”). It means to teach, to instruct, to impart knowledge.
The context suggests that it is not “teaching” in the classroom sense, but rather the “teaching” of the faith.
Some famous preachers are referred to as “Bible teachers” rather than “preachers.” That reflects their gifting as a didaskōn (teacher) rather than as a prophēteian (prophet).
Those with the gift of teaching are especially fruitful when they are imparting knowledge to others.
Do you have the gift of teaching? The best way to discover is to try it out!
VERSE 8. or he who exhorts, to his exhorting; he who gives, let him do it with generosity; he who rules, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
exhorts. The Greek word is παρακαλῶν (“parakalōn”). It means to invite, to beseech, to comfort, to encourage, to console.
You may recall that another name for the Holy Spirit is the Paraklete.
Barnabas almost certainly had the gift of exhortation. He was nicknamed The Encourager.
Those with the gift of encouraging are especially fruitful when they are encouraging others.
Do you have the gift of encouraging? The best way to discover is to try it out!
gives. The Greek word is μεταδιδοὺς (“metadidous”). It means to share, to offer, to impart, to bestow.
If you find great joy in tithing or helping the poor, you might have the gift of contributing.
Those with the gift of contributing are especially fruitful when they are supporting others.
Do you have the gift of contributing? The best way to discover is to try it out!
rules. The Greek word is προϊστάμενος (“proistamenos”). It means to preside, to rule over, to direct.
A person with this gift of leadership will be a humble leader. They will act for what is best for the community, rather than what is best for their own career or ego.
Some of today’s leaders in the Christian community do not exhibit this gift of biblical leadership. Instead, they exhibit a thirst for power or fame. Some are bossy. Some seem motivated by ego. Some seem out to further their own career. Behind the scenes, many act with Machiavellian ruthlessness.
Those with the actual gift of leading are especially humble. They are free of ego when in a leadership capacity.
Do you have the gift of leadership? The best way to discover is to try it out!
shows mercy. The Greek word is ἐλεῶν (“eleōn”). It means to have pity, to show mercy. Mercy is extended in a godly way.
The Pharisees did “merciful” deeds but only to feed their own egos, and not to actually help someone else.
Those with the gift of mercy are especially effective at helping those who are less fortunate.
Do you have the gift of mercy? The best way to discover is to try it out!
VERSE 10. In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate to one another; in honor preferring one another;
rejoicing in hope. We are to let hope be our joy. Faith and hope and love—these correspond to the persons of the Holy Trinity:
God the Father » LOVE
God the Son » HOPE
God the Holy Spirit » FAITH
So we could paraphrase “rejoicing in hope” as “rejoicing in Jesus!”
Colossians 4:2. Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving,
Sirach 7:34. Be not lacking to those who weep; And mourn with those who mourn.
VERSE 16. Be of the same mind one toward another. Don’t set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Don’t be wise in your own conceits.
Psalm 109:5. They have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
VERSE 19. Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.”
Proverbs 20:22. Don’t say, “I will pay back evil.” Wait for the LORD, and he will save you.
VERSE 20. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
heap coals of fire on his head. Why would we want to heap burning coals on somebody’s head? It almost evokes medieval imagery: torture somebody and they might repent.
However, a quote from Catherine of Sienna sheds some light on this. She writes:
“Thus cleansed by the fire of divine charity.”
Perhaps the heaping coals are the fire of divine charity, and perhaps they can cleanse one’s enemy.
Proverbs 25:21-22. If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat. If he is thirsty, give him water to drink: 22 for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.