“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. 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.
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. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 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; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 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.” (Romans 12:1-8, NIV)
Our single purpose on this earth—the end of God’s strategy in our life—is not that we might enjoy His blessings…be eternally happy… or to be free from anything that might burden us. His purpose for us, just with the Israelites in the wilderness, is that we might become holy…. That’s the point throughout scripture. Jesus came to save my soul, and praise God He did! But He saved me to be holy—that is, set apart for God’s purposes and to shine as a new creature of light—-not one of darkness or changing shades and shadows.
Maybe we’re confused and lack the zeal we need because we have forgotten that joy only comes true worship and abiding in Him. And that worship means that we’re giving in to God’s expecations and we’re prepared for Him to use us. The world has a view of God being a perpetual blessing machine—-a sort of “Genie in a bottle”….that He created us for the sole purpose of blessing us. That’s just not true and it’s totally at odds with the narrative, biographies and stories of every hero and heroine of the Bible.
My sons like to watch the Transformer movies—-and they have some of the action figures. You’ve seen them in stores I suppose. It’s a toy that looks like a car, but you can move the pieces around and turn it into a robot that looks like a man—-a super hero. It looks and functions one way, but when transformed it serves a total new purpose. Jesus Christ is the Transformer. He came to transform us from being like the other fallen creatures that surround us into something totally different—something that does not even resemble our former selves. And Jesus, the Transformer, continues to make us into better and better “machines”, until we are complete sons and daughters of God.
Is this happening in your life? Can you see Him transforming others and are you beginning to see the world as it really is? How can we start seeing things as the really are? We need to change the glasses we’re wearing! It’s been said that things are never as bad or as good as they appear, but if He renews our mind we can discern. This is what Paul said earlier when he spoke about the “renewing of your mind”. Once the Holy Spirit comes upon you, He changes not only the way you see things, but gives you the wisdom to figure out God’s will. Paul said, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” That’s what we want here—-isn’t it? We want what is good, pleasing and His perfect will. Right? Or are we seeking something else?
Sometimes we wring our hands about not knowing what to do or how to go forward, but Paul’s clear: If we are full submitted to Jesus and allowing God to have His way in our lives, our work, our dreams and our church, we can be sure that what’s happening is all within His plan! A church exists for the primary purpose of the congregants coming together not to do good works, not to save the lost, not to keep the members smiling and happy. We come together to humble ourselves and offer true worship to Almighty God. And if we do that, good works, the salvation of the lost and unspeakable joy will follow. But we often leave the main purpose out!
But in this same passage Paul brings up something that might seem out of place? Pride. It seems unconscionable to worship God and yet have pride, but look at the life of Lucifer or any number of pastors that began fully focused upon Him, but then begin to wonder if it was God’s gift, or perhaps they were a gift to God! Getting closer to the creature we ought to be does not make us bullet proof to things that can pull us down. And the number one pitfall is pride—-it’s always been that way from the fall of Satan. And you and I have no idea of the grandeur and majesty of God that Lucifer’s eyes feasted upon day in and day out! He was endowed with great responsibilities, great knowledge and beheld the glory of God and still fell ——— because he thought too highly of his God-given abilities.
What is humility? “Humility is not thinking less of you, it’s thinking of yourself less.” -C. S. Lewis. Lucifer’s mind was set upon himself. You see, pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real. God wants to make us into His real, authentic sons and daughters—not some actor or fraud! How do we humble ourselves? Lewis said this: “…adopt Jesus’ way of thinking; his values and attitudes must become ours. His strong emphasis on humility and meekness and his example of it must take hold of our thinking, our desires and our conduct. We must admire his humility and want it for ourselves. For this to happen, we need to earnestly and regularly pray for the Holy Spirit to change our hearts, for it is impossible to do it in our own strength.”
Jesus meant what He said when he called men and women to humble themselves. As Paul said, it means: having a right view of ourselves before God and others. “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..” Be happy that you’re blessed, that you have good looks or great health, or that people compliment on what you’ve accomplished or how smart or athletic you are. And then soberly remind yourself that it’s a gift—-along with the very breath in your lungs. It’s only because of God’s good favor that you have anything. Augustine said: It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying. St. Vincent de Paul
Later in Romans Paul goes on to say, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.” (Rom. 12:16). And as he said to the Philippians, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3–4). As we refuse to be preoccupied with ourselves and our own importance and seek to love and serve others, it will reorient us from self-centeredness to other-centeredness—to serving and caring for others just as Jesus did for us. In the narcissistic culture of contemporary America, this is a particularly powerful countercultural witness of Christ’s presence and lordship in our lives.
When the Israelites were ordered by God to create ornate objects of gold, silver or bronze, He gave the gift. “Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.” Exodus 35:30-35, NIV. You see, God’s not calling you to do things you could never do, He is calling you to do the very things He has gifted you to do—-and shame on you and me……and woe to you and me….if we hide those gifts and refuse to use them to worship Him and advance His Kingdom.
We often wail as if we don’t know who God is and what He can do. If we are about the business of bringing worship to God with our bodies, minds and all that He’s given us, He will either raise upon within us the gifts we need for the work to be done, or He will add new servants to our fellowship that possess the gifts we lack. If our Father is not lacking in ability to breathe life into dust and call it to life, or bring together bones of those long dead and create a fearsome army, He can take care of what we need to better honor and glorify Him.
But, are we being good stewards with the gifts He’s given us? We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. God will judge the quality of work we produce with the gifts He’s bestowed, be wary of being the fruit inspectors of how every other person is putting to use the gifts He’s given them. We’re not all the same—-PRAISE GOD!
One final remark about all of this. A talent or special ability is a gift from God. But note that humility is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit—-neither is honesty. The fruits of love, peace, joy, patience, kindness and so on, come to us, that is, are born in us, as we abide in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit causes them to burst forth in our lives!
But humility is different. God requires that we choose it—daily. He is testing us, the men and women in every church. It’s been said that the first test of a truly great woman or man is in his humility. (John Ruski). Are you allowing Him to do great things in your life and the life of your fellowship?
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…"Galatians 2:20. “These words mean the breaking and collapse of my independence brought about by my own hands, and the surrendering of my life to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can do this for me, I must do it myself.” Chambers
The one point to ask myself is— will I give up? Will I surrender to Jesus Christ, placing no conditions whatsoever as to how He sends that brokenness? I must be broken from my own need to understand or explain myself. When I reach that point, immediately the reality of the supernatural identification with Jesus Christ takes place. And the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable— “I have been crucified with Christ….”
The passion of Christianity comes from deliberately signing away my own rights and becoming a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Until I do that, I will bear no resemblance of Jesus Christ.