JESUS TEACHES US HOW TO LIVE – OUR DESIRED CHARACTER

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JESUS TEACHES US HOW TO LIVE – OUR DESIRED CHARACTERISTICS

For many believers, after we have accepted Christ, we have this ‘what now’ moment. Emotionally it is a momentous occasion. Psychologically we know things should be very different. But when we look around us, nothing seems to have changed. Been there? Then judgmental voices start telling us that we should be perfect. Some even use that to their advantage and say that we should start doing things for them because that is the ‘godly’ thing to do. And the irony is, these very same people are not even believers. So then, how shall we live? The apostle Paul gives us, through Romans 12 to 15, guidelines on how we should conduct ourselves; beginning with our character, then our public actions and finally, how we should respond to our fellow believers. We shall therefore also deal with them in three parts.

In this first section, we look at the kind of character we should have.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

It makes sense to start this discussion from the heart. For it is written,

“Do not be envious of evil men,
Nor desire to be with them;
For their heart devises violence,
And their lips talk of troublemaking.” Proverbs 24:1-2

What our hearts feel, our minds think, our mouths utter and our hands act upon. So getting right what is in our hearts is the most important step in getting our lives right on the outside. So what exactly are we to do? How shall we be a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to our Father?

Paul tells us,

“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1 [AMPC]

We should be devoted to God. Consecrated, set apart for God. But does that mean that we should all therefore abstain from the world and start congregating in monasteries? Well, if our Father calls you to minister to His people, then that is great. But no, that is not what Paul is referring to here. This is what he means.

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” Romans 12:2 [AMPC]

This means that we should stop measuring our lives, our blessings, our station, by the yard stick of this world. We should stop being drawn to the external and superficial, but instead start looking at what is inside. Look beyond the veneer. If we were to translate Paul into Jesus’ words,

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6: 19-21

Change your priorities. Set your sights on what is eternal. If anything of this temporal world distracts you and draws you away from what is eternal, then you know that is not something you should engage in or with. Simply put,

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

Part of this change in mindset also is a change in the way we view our service to God. Jesus said,

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” Matthew 6:1-2

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” Matthew 6:5

Jesus is not interested in what you can do for Him out of your own strength. He only wants to bless you. Our service, therefore, should seek to honor Him and not be used as a platform on which we boast in our own capabilities. So when we serve, our service should use these very same gifts, with which we have been blessed, to bless and help our brethren. Because when we do, we are giving the glory and honor to our Father and to Jesus, for without them, we would not have this ability to bless in the first place. As Paul says,

“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

So then, stop worrying if you are still unable to give financially to your local church, to a level which pleases the church’s management. Remember that you are charged instead to use the gifts which our Father has given you to bless others. And if you are thinking that you have no gift? Well, give yourself sometime to discover it because in time, Jesus will surely show you what that gift is.

Now comes the most difficult part.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:9-18

This is the section of scripture that many people use to take advantage of the believer. And when this happens, when the believer allows the condemnation to get to him, he will begin to fall away. Because honestly. This section sounds like we are to be push overs right? It is as if we have no more rights and all we do is turn the other cheek. Well, that is because we have not come to the end of the chapter yet. But first, let us consider what will practically happen to us if we are able to live life like this. Patient; doing good; blessing even those who misunderstand you; generous; magnanimous; humble. Would not your actions, in time, draw people to you, wanting to know what it your secret to living such a perfect life? Then you can tell them, that your secret is Jesus. Then they will turn and be saved. How pleased do you think your Father will be with you then? For Jesus Himself said,

“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10

But those people treat me badly, you say. They do not deserve my kindness. Well, neither did you deserve His grace, yet He freely gave when you asked. BUT! Take heart, if those around you reject your kindness, we have very specific instructions from Jesus.

“Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.” Matthew 10:11-14

Ask our Father to show you whom you should bless. And if they receive it, bless them. But should they reject you, leave. For remember beloved, we are not alone. When we face persecution, we are not alone. So,

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 3:16

Also remember that

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

So when we face persecution, know that your loving Father sees and will see to it, for it is written,

“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21

Give place for His wrath. Let Him deal with those who reject us. Just as He promised regarding those who rejected them whom He sent,

“Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” Matthew 10:15

So too will He deal with our enemies.

Therefore set your mind at ease, and start measuring your life with Heaven’s yard stick. Look upon your service from His eyes, with His gifts, and live the life which He willed for you. And leave everything else to Him.

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