As we contemplate the upcoming year and make promises to ourselves to live better, love better and do better, it may benefit us to approach these promises in a different light.
What if, we decide to utilize our minds to be willfully in sync with God – to make a conscious choice to subordinate our will to His? What if we wake up each day and ask God to transform the way we think?
What if we actually live like Paul challenges the Christians in Rome to live?
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 New Living Translation
It is a choice to give our bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice. Many of us make the same resolution year after year – to lose weight and get into shape. We try to do this by our own will power and fail. So why not ask God to intervene? Ask Him to give us a yearning for water instead of soda or beer. When grocery shopping, ask Him to help us enjoy the bounty of His earth instead of the pre-packaged, reconstituted substances found in the snack or frozen food aisles? When trying to motivate ourselves to exercise, ask God to show us a friend who could use encouragement and take a walk with them. Whatever our human weakness is, let us choose to ask God for guidance.
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. Romans 12:3-5
It is a choice to re-evaluate ourselves in terms of God’s standards. If we are successful at earning money, do we pat ourselves on the back and spend it on ourselves with no thought as to why we have been blessed with so much. Do we actually think that the possessions we have are ours or do we understand that everything we have was loaned to us by God? Have we ever sought God’s Will in how to spend it or use it?
It is a choice to recognize that gifts from God come in many forms and they have a Godly purpose. The key is to determine what we have been blessed with and how we are passing those blessings onto others so that they may be stronger in their journey of faith. As we build others up, we build up the Body of Christ.
It is a choice to understand that “we belong to each other”. As Christians, the same Holy Spirit in you is the same Holy Spirit in me. The Holy Spirit unites us as one. So when you suffer, I suffer – when you grieve, I grieve – when you are encouraged, I am encouraged. Why? . . . because we are connected as one through The Spirit with Jesus.
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Romans 12:6-8
It is a choice to recognize the gifts God has given us and use them for His Glory. Let us re-evaluate our selfish thinking on the reason for the gifts and instead ask God to show us how to use the gifts for the encouragement and building up of His Body. Let us face each day, remembering that in the scope of eternity, this day is a new beginning. Let us ask God to strengthen us with the gifts we need in the moments we are in.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13
It is a choice to love others. It is a choice to seek out in prayer what someone else is in need of. It is a choice to ask the Holy Spirit to move in someone else’s life to bring them closer to Jesus – to ask that they be placed in circumstances so that they recognize their need of a Savior. It is love to intercede for someone else – to know and understand that Jesus died in our place so that we might have eternal life with Him.
Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.
Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:14-21
It is a choice to throw off grumbling. It is a choice to view circumstances differently – which many times is a choice not to be offended. Accept that circumstances are not coincidence – that we are placed in this time and place to be used by God for His Glory. Don’t waste time planning to hurt someone – it never ends well!
It is a choice to recognize evil and flee from it. Let us choose to remove ourselves from situations that are not of God, praying continually for wisdom and discernment. Prior to evil attacking, we need to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6) and ask God to intervene with a song in our hearts and worship on our lips.
It is a choice to treat enemies with kindness. In our kindness, we may be the seed that causes the changes needed for a person to believe in Jesus. Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to move in someone’s life!
Each of us is on our own unique journey, never before traveled by any other person. We cannot compare our journey to others; instead, we need to use the wisdom gained from our journey to encourage others on their journey, recognizing that we don’t have answers for them, only a way to encourage them to find their own answers through God.
This year, may we resolve to seek God and His direction as we face each new day. Let us shrug off our own will and let God replace it with His Will.
Remember . . . Rejoice . . . and be Renewed . . . for Our God is Love. Choose Love.