By Eric Taylor
Pastor, Cedar Hill Baptist Church, Cedar Hill
Focal Passage: Romans 12:3-16
The epistle of Romans is often called Paul’s theological treatise concerning salvation and God’s work of grace. However, when you arrive at chapter 12, the apostle’s message moves from the theological to the practical. One could say that Romans 12 begins Paul’s practical application of the gospel he declared in Romans 1-11. And in our lesson for this week, we are encouraged to practically apply the gospel by exhibiting a faithful commitment to Christ’s church.
First, our commitment to the church is seen in the fact that we believe we are one body in Christ (v. 5). In other words, we are to be a united body of believers, marked by humility and mutual respect (v. 3). Matter of fact, from the very first words of this chapter, you see the language of unity.
In verse 1, Paul calls the church, “brethren,” and in verse 13, he uses the word, “saints.” Interestingly, the word “saint” is found sixty times in the New Testament, and every time it is used in the plural form. Throughout the chapter you see unifying phrases like, “in one body,” “one body,” “one another,” and “of the same mind.” We must understand that our level of commitment is often best seen in how serious we are in “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).”
Second, our commitment to Christ’s church is seen in our willingness to serve with our spiritual gifts (Romans 12:4-8). While the apostle states that there are many “members” in the body of Christ, he makes it clear that we are all connected through our giftedness.
And while our gifts may “differ” (v. 6), we are to apply them with the grace and faith we have received from the Lord. And while the list of spiritual gifts may not be exhaustive, it is strong enough to remind us that God has given every believer spiritual gifts to humbly serve within the body of Christ.
Finally, our commitment to the church is seen in our godly character. In verses 9-13, we are to exercise genuineness. Our genuineness is seen in our personal consistency, in that we are not hypocrites, and that we hate evil and love good (v. 9).
It is seen in how we treat and serve others in the church (vv. 10-11). It is marked by the strength of our convictions in our praise, patience, and prayer (v. 12).
Finally, it is seen in our concern for others in the body of Christ (v. 13).
In verses 14-16, we see our graciousness is three-fold. It starts with our reaction to the enemy. Paul does not explain whether the enemy is in the church or outside the church, which may be on purpose, because our reaction is to be the same.
It is to fulfill the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, as He calls us to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us” (Matthew 5:44). Then, in Romans 12:15-16, we treat others with humility and equity, as we reject arrogance.
In all this, we are showing the church we are a part of and the world in which we live that we are committed to the body of Christ. B&R