MSG Romans 12:1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Life is familiar, complicated and sometimes even confusing. I want to honor God. I want to be faithful. I want to be obedient. I want to do what’s right. I want to be a good citizen. I want to be a good wife. There’s nothing in that list I have’t failed at more than once. There are just times when I need to hear: “So here’s what I want you to do…”
As I thought about the rest of these two verses it reminded me of when our children were small [back in the olden days]. There were little handmade gifts often prompted by a teacher in school, maybe more a duty than the reality of their own hearts at the time. Sometimes they were made of pieces of crumpled tissue paper in the shape of a heart glued to construction paper and decorated with their own shaky printing. They were childish efforts meant to express some level of caring. I saved them for many years and eventually some were returned to their “all grown-up” creators. It was a way to let them know their simple gifts had been my treasures.
I think that must be how God deals with our offerings. Ordinary life offerings may feel more like duty but they are the reality of our own heart right then. They don’t have much material value but he saves them to be returned to you. Our simple gifts are the treasures God creates our blessings from.
“So here’s what I want you to do…
• If the only way you honored God this week was to swallow some critical words rather than speak them…
•if the only way you were faithful was to open your Bible first even though you didn’t really feel the inspiration…
• if you did the right thing even when it wasn’t what you really wanted to do…
• if the whole political environment makes you want to gripe more than pray…
• if after decades of marriage you’re still in a slight period of adjustment…
Those are the crumpled pieces of tissue that are the shape of your heart at this moment. Add your own shaky words of confession …”and place it before God as an offering…fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”
That’s the blessing that will be returned to you [soorner rather than later I hope]. It’s your treasure “pressed down, shaken together, and running over” to remind you how priceless a childish gift really is to God. Amen!
I Timothy 1:12-16 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
The Apostle said “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” There’s not one of us who doesn’t want mercy and grace. It reminded me of buying a car in a way. Features you might want often come packaged together so you can’t just take one, you have to take them all.
You don’t just get mercy and grace as individual features either. They come packaged “with the faith and love that are in Christ.” They are not meant to excuse our ignorance and unbelief. They give us the courage to admit the power of Christ to recover the destructive effects of our ignorance and unbelief “as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”
Take The Package Deal.
1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
The image of a teeter-totter came to my mind. On one end are the options of darkness and sin and on the other light and forgiveness. They’re the competing elements of life that bring up the issue of finding balance. Choosing to hover between those options is only going to leave us Off Kilter much of the time.
That struggle and making balance our goal is the inescapable evidence of our incompleteness and our need. Why would we want to settle for balance when we can get off the teeter totter and stand on firm ground with these promises?
“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
2 Peter 1:12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
I had to stop and remind myself to pay attention to what comes after verse 12 because that verse is such an important thought for me. I believe it with all my heart. I can be devout, I can be faithful…but…I am only “established in the truth [I] now have. I am still a learner.
There are so many controversies that rage in the world of faith; devout people blowing up abortion clinics, devout muslims killing themselves and others in the name of holiness. Devout Christians with polar opposite views on the very same subject. Christians, like me, wanting so much to do the right thing and have the right position on any topic. In the name of God, the temptation becomes picking a side to follow…rather than picking a Savior to follow.
That’s the Truth I need to be reminded of.