Being Transformed by the Renewal of Our Minds

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 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. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:1-8, ESV)

This has been a foundational passage for my walk with God, and for my teaching ministry. God repeatedly brings me back to it, and it does my soul much good to read and remember its important truths. There is a flow to the passage, to what it calls us to do—important reminders, time and time again, as I pursue God’s calling on my life. I invite you to reflect with me on some key aspects of the passage.

By the mercies of God. The passage begins with a recognition of God’s mercy and grace that comes to us through faith in Christ Jesus. Everything that follows is made possible by the mercies of God, calling us to gratitude, and to have hope that God is working powerfully for, in, and through us. Am I taking time regularly to remember and appreciate God’s mercies toward me?

A living sacrifice. My response to God’s mercies should be one of obedience, devoting myself to Him and following Him wherever He leads. This is the heart of worship – not my emotional high, but my commitment to God and His Kingdom. Am I regularly dedicating myself to God and His purposes?

Don’t be conformed … but be transformed. We are all being formed by our cultures and human systems that often rebel against God. As I give myself to God in worship, I am called to resist the “conforming” forces around me and allow God, through the Holy Spirit, to transform me. God’s primary tool to transform my mind is Scripture, so I need to read, study, meditate on His Word, allowing Him to teach and change me. Am I spending regular time immersed in Scripture, so that God can accomplish His transforming work in me?

Think, with sober judgment. Sometimes, we who study and teach the Bible are tempted to pride because of the greatness of the message we share. Paul humbles us, reminding us that we are all members of one Body, and we all have important gifts to share. We are members of one another and we must fight any temptation to feel more important that anyone else. Am I tempted to pride as a teacher of God’s Word?

Having gifts that differ … let us use them. Because of God’s mercies, He has saved us. We are called to respond as living sacrifices, dedicating ourselves to God and His purposes. To do this well, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As God performs His transforming work, we not only have a new relationship with Him, we have a new relationship with others who are also part of the Body of Christ, and together, we have a mutual ministry to carry out. God has gifted each of us, and we are called to use whatever gift we have for the benefit of others in the Body. Is my teaching a response to God’s gifting and guidance, or simply a means to feed my own ego?

The one who teaches, in his teaching. For those of us called to teach, we are to do so as a response to the mercies of God, His transforming work within us, and out of humble obedience to His calling that we use the gifts He has given us to strengthen the Body of Christ. Our ministry all flows from His mercies, His transforming work, His gifting us. Our joy in teaching is to lift Him up and give praise and glory to Him for His wonderful mercy and grace. Where do I find my joy when I teach?

Does your teaching flow from this work of God in your life? Are you teaching out of obedience to God as He continues His transforming work in you and gifts you to benefit the Body of Christ? What is your source of joy in your teaching? I encourage you to reflect on these things and to renew your commitment as a “living sacrifice” to God. May your teaching reflect His transforming work!

Father, thank you for your mercies in Christ Jesus, and your ability to take my life, transform me, and use me for your purposes. Help me to find joy in using the gifts you have given me to strengthen your church. Please keep me from any sense of pride in my teaching, but help me to recognize that all of this comes from you and is to glorify you as you build your church. Please continue your transforming work in me and help me be a blessing to others who follow you. Amen.

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