Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Regardless of whether or not we choose to accept it, God has called us to a wild adventure—a mission! Over the course of the next three weeks, we’ll be studying Romans 12:1-2 to uncover our mission, ready ourselves for it, and truly understand what it means to join God as he sets the world right. In seeking God with your head, heart, and hands you open yourself up to hearing what he has in store for you.
This week, Teaching Minister Jim Keller discusses matters of the heart— what we need to do to get our hearts in the game so that we may pursue our mission out of love for who God is and what he’s done for us.
If your heart's not in what you’re doing—be it actively fulfilling God’s mission or a simple task at hand—a vital element of your motivation is absent. As Christians on mission, our motivation, our joy, and our willingness to extend grace are all essential parts of living the gospel and leading people to Christ. How do you want others to feel when they experience the love and grace of God through you? Is there anything standing in the way of people experiencing you that way right now?
In Romans 12:1-2, Paul is coming alongside us and providing emotional motivation to do what God wants us to do. Throughout Scripture we are called to encourage one another, stir up one another, and to speak truth in love. Have you ever rejected the encouragement of your brothers and sisters in Christ because of your emotional state? If you look back at the truth of the situation, does it change the emotions around it? When have you best received emotional motivation? Why were you able to receive it with such ease?
Truth is not emotional, but truth comes wrapped in emotions. What do you know to be true about God? What emotions do you attach to those truths?
Read three different translations of Romans 12:1-2. Jim Keller speaks to how emotionally loaded the word “urge” is in the NIV translation. What other words stand out to you in this passage and what are the emotions tied to those words? As you focus on the emotions reflected in the word choice, can you garner any new insight as to Paul’s emotional motivation for writing these verses? What emotional response do you believe he was trying to elicit in us? What do you believe he was feeling?
Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-7. As believers, God gives us gifts so we have the privilege of giving back to him. As sinners, we struggle with selfishness, entitlement, and a slew of other questionable characteristics that often make it difficult to want to give back. In this Scripture, Paul gives us specific instruction as to what our emotional state should be as we give. What implications does this have for us when we are not in a state of cheerfulness as we give? Does giving just out of obedience hold less value than giving cheerfully out of obedience and love? How should we address a reluctant heart in ourselves and/or in others?
Last week Jim talked about the importance of what we focus on—that we are essentially worshipping that which we focus on. Discuss both the positive and negative ways that the head affects the heart and vice versa. How can this affect us uncovering and pursuing our God-given mission?
Read John 1:14. God spoke to us in the best way we could understand—by becoming us. John writes, We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. With as many perfect characteristics as are attributed to God, why are grace and truth significant? Why are they paired together here? What role do grace and truth play in our mission as individuals and as a church?
Jim said that there is nothing that God calls us to that will not result in unspeakable joy. As you do life this week, keep your finger on the pulse of your emotions—perhaps jot some notes down if you are so inclined. Take stock of the times in your day or your week when you are not joyful and examine your heart. Pray that God will continually remind you of the truth of who he is and what he has done for you and observe the change of heart that can come as a result.