Romans 12:3-5 (ESV) For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
One body. One Spirit. One church. Oh, so many members. The human body has many components that somehow can figure out how to work together in one fluid movement. Our brain tells our organs how to function, our limbs to work in unison, and somehow there is a coordinated effort it all work together. A handicap is when there is a component of the body not properly functioning according to its original design. The word “handicap” means a disadvantage. It makes success more difficult. It is considered a disability or burden to the bearer. It creates a challenge to the proper function of that which it impairs. To some this word is considered offensive. I mean nothing of the sort. Our body was designed by God to function a certain way. Sin introduced certain disadvantages that Christ has overcome. The Body of Christ suffers certain handicaps that the Spirit works in us to overcome. I am encouraged today that I serve the Living God who gives resurrection power and life to all His People.
Acts 2:42-47 (ESV) And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Everything created by God works in the realm of relationships. Even our bodies were designed with many members and one brain that works together. Right down to cellular regeneration within us, everything has a purpose in the grand scheme of our natural bodies. When a part of the body is not fully functioning, it may be considered disabled or handicapped. If our immune system is not successful in overcoming an attack, our body becomes sick or infirmed. If an organ ceases to function, life is compromised by the adverse condition. This is all in the natural AND spiritual realm of relationships. Our body’s ability to coordinate all its members into a fully functioning operation is what perpetuates and propels us through life. We are not only a physical body but a member of the Body of Christ.
Within our participation as a Child of God, believer and even Christian – we are part of a body. We have a purpose and place within the Body of Christ meant specifically for us. I have five children. Two boys and three girls. Each one has a special place in my heart and in our family design. It would be ridiculous to think that if something happened to one of them that it would be okay because we have four other children. There is no such thing as collateral damage in a household. If a family member passes, they will be missed. It will create a void. It should be so in the Body of Christ. He is a Good Shepherd. He will leave the ninety-nine to find the one who is lost. We must learn to place value and worth on the Body of Christ that we belong to. It is vital to our successful prosperity in life. To be a fully functioning member produces the promises of God not only in our life but for those around us in relationship with us, too.
The early church came together. They became a body. A functioning unit that added to the Kingdom daily. They spent every day in close fellowship with one another. None too busy or self-involved, these believers experienced miracles, signs and wonders as God’s Power flowed through them. His Breath is life to us. When we breathe together, it becomes a source of power. God loves unity. Harmony is precious anointing that He is ready to pour out over the Body of Christ. Are we ready to receive it?
Romans 12:9-13 (ESV) Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
In Romans 12, the believer is encouraged to become a living sacrifice. To live a holy and acceptable life that promotes a fully functioning body. It is called worship. We must not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Hence the war of self begins. It is human nature to survive. Yet, we are called to thrive. No one will prosper if they are not willing to invest. There is no return where there is no investment. It’s Biblical for a man cannot reap what he has not sown. With this in mind, to become a living sacrifice means something must be fully surrendered. To say, I surrender all means nothing if not accompanied by change. Sacrifice is not generally a comfortable effort but completely worthwhile endeavor.
I am led a ladies small group the other night. I am challenged to do so. Women are tough when it comes to relationships. I should know… I am one. However, I know that God desires us all to maintain healthy, loving and trusting relationships with those around us. We struggle because of past experiences. Trust forsaken is tough to recover. Yet we must find a way to overcome our differences, and forge strong bonds together to see the Body of Christ become healthy again. To see a Body fit for our soon and coming King!
Let love be genuine.
I Corinthians 13 lays out the guidelines of God-like love and commitment that characterizes genuine. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. This is genuine love. This is the love that God places in us and is the kind of love that He wants us to have for others. Lord, let my love be genuine.
Abhor what is evil.
I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
We must flee from evil. Do not entertain it. Our minds are like sponges the things we permit to remain will assert dominance in us. You cannot love God and love sin at the same time. There is no meeting of the minds when it comes to the Goodness of God and every kind of evil. We must learn from God’s Word what He defines as the sin that defiles us and permit the Holy Spirit to change our mind from loving sin to loving God more than sin. This is how we combat evil in us. Our flesh wants to live. It wages war against the Spirit. There will be no unity in the Body of Christ if each member seeks its own way and allows sin to have dominance in their life. The word “abhor” is a strong verb. It means to regard with extreme repugnance or aversion. To detest and loathe something. Sin is rampant in our world. Violence at an all time high. Love has grown cold and there is complete disregard for others. Lord, show me the sin and evil in me and around me. Teach me to abhor it as much as you do!
Hold fast to what is good.
God is good. He is always good. No matter what is happening around you He is still good and His Goodness is for you. It doesn’t matter your present conditions or situation. God is still good. His Unfailing Love and Goodness are pursuing you. On those days when nothing is going right, Lord I challenge me to still sing, “You are good!”
Love one another with true affection.
We are all members of one body. Mic drop. The first commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and body. The only other one is to love others. Loving one another is non-negotiable. By choosing to remain offended and unforgiving, we are the ones who are limited. Love is expendable and thereby expands into full satisfaction and inexpressible joy, not in its reproduction or reciprocation, but as the Lord fills more and more of our heart with His Love.
Outdo one another showing honor.
Comparison is a joy killer. I need my right and left hand equally to type these words to you each day. My left and right hand are both appendages but they do not fight for superiority. They were created with a job to do and they do it seemingly unaware of the other hand doing essentially the exact same thing. The Word of God tells us who we are in Jesus Christ and promises to make us a new creation in our abiding relationship with Him. My purpose and promises are not your purposes and promises – this is not a competition for the Father’s Love. We care brothers and sisters in Christ with an equal proportioned inheritance. It already belongs to us. There is nothing to do but remain in a righteous relationship through Jesus to secure it. Lord, help me to look for my value and worth in Your Word. There is no competition. Hands down! I have victory in You!
Do not be slothful in zeal.
Praise the Lord! No seriously! We have to live in a constant state of praise and worship to maintain life in His Presence. It creates enthusiasm in our spirit person when the Holy Spirit responds to the close proximity of God. The Lord inhabits the praise of His People. Get excited. Stir up the Gift of God within you. You have every reason to celebrate even on your worst day knowing that all things work together for your good!
Be fervent in Spirit.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Jesus Christ has given you His Spirit. Resurrection power and life live in you. The Holy Spirit is our helper. Teacher. Mentor. Guide for life. Utilize this power gift imparted to you by God through His Son – Jesus.
Serve the Lord.
Wow! This fell so far down the list. Love. Be loved. Finally, we come to service. Serving God must be precipitated by a deep and abiding relationship of love for Him and other people. We owe no man anything but love. To serve God we must be lovers.
Rejoice in hope.
The hope that has been given to us never leads to disappointment.
Be patient in tribulation.
Tests and trials are temporary. Do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. If I break a toe, I am not likely to cut it off.
Be constant in prayer.
Communication with God is essential to maintain a right relationship with Him.
Contribute to the needs of others.
The blessings in my life are not just for me. God provides seed to the sower. He gives to us in the name of generosity so we can pour it out on others. The Body of Christ needs each member to become united. To live looking after one another so the Body will thrive again. The fractured, dysfunctional unit presented to the world today does not offer anything any different than another group of people. Where is the power? Where is the difference? What happened to the Light? Why aren’t we salty anymore? Could it be that rather than considering God and His Purpose to love others – that we have become lost in ourselves?
Seek to show hospitality.
Church of the Living God and Members of the Body of Jesus Christ, I am challenged today. I am moved in my heart and soul that we need to get it together. God has set forth characteristics for Christian believers. One thing is clear. It is not about me. Or you for that matter… It is all about Jesus. His Body is hurting, broken and fragmented. I can do nothing other than be sure that my “member” is ready. I must examine my own heart. I must allow the Holy Spirit to change my mind. I must remove myself from the throne of self and put Jesus back in His Rightful Place. The early church was exciting. Charismatic. There were signs, wonders and miracles. Life was a party in the midst of terrible tribulation. They were murdered for believing back then yet risked it all to be together as one. What will you give up to assemble the Body of Christ again? What am I willing to sacrifice for unity? We have to get this together before Jesus comes for us. We must put aside our differences and find commonality and community in Christ.
I Peter 3:8-9 (ESV) Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.