“ABUNDANT LIFE (1): GIVE BACK” By Pastor YAU
Text: Romans 12:1-2 March 20, 2011
1) This is what we try to do: I believe that great majority of Christians love to live an abundant life, a life full of joy, power, hope, love and victory. But most of these Christians didn’t get what they want or wish to have. Instead they experience defeat, struggles and failures. They try to read more, study more, go to more conferences and seminars, try extra-spiritual experience in speaking in tongues and singing spiritual songs, trying to “get more” from God or “get closer” to God for their thirsty souls. Even if they get some heights in listening to great speakers, read good books written by famous authors, their ecstatic experiences are short-lived and they wonder why?
2) This is what we ought to do: The root of all these failures is we try it in the wrong way. The right way is not trying more to get more from God, but to give more back to God, give more of our life to God. After teaching the early Christians what God has done and given to them in Romans 1-11, Paul turned around and told them it is time for them to give back to God, to surrender our lives back to God. Paul tells us we need to allow God to take fuller control of all of us so He can work in and through us. When asked of the first and the most important law of all, Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, your mind and all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Jesus was talking about giving God “all we have.”
PRECONDITIONS TO AN ABUNDANT LIFE: Recognizing---
1) A reasonable response: “Therefore, I urge you.” (12:1) After the full discourse from chapter 1 through 11 in the book on what God has done for us, we need to have proper response to God. If you truly know God and what He has done for you, you need to have a proper response to Him. Paul says: “We urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.” (2 Cor. 6:1) We must respond.
2) A willing heart to grow: “Therefore I urge you.” (12:1b) The Greek translated in English as urge is para-kletos is from a verb para-kaleo which means to come alongside to help, to assist in carrying some weight, like a large object. Paul understands that spiritual growth to a fuller Christian life is never an easy task. It takes some help from those who are stronger and more matured to help us out. Paul also used a “imperative” case of the word that means to grow to a fuller Christian life is not an option but a command—we must grow to the fuller statue of Christ. (Eph. 4:13) One must recognize his duty of fulfilling a command and be willing to accept the teaching of the Bible.
3) A proper ground to grow: “I urge you therefore my brothers.” (12:1c) A brother in Christ is one who holds the same belief of faith in Jesus as Paul did. Paul was talking to those who are already in the family of believers of Christ, those who were born again in the spirit of God. No one without a genuine new life in Christ may achieve any full life. No one may do anything by himself to achieve the full potential of life. Only those who have been born again been saved by the grace of God may grow to the full Christian life. The Bible says, “a natural man does not accept the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them.” (1 Corinth. 2:14)
4) A divine guarantee to succeed: “Therefore, I urge you, my brothers, by the mercies of God.” (12:1d) Oiktirmon in Greek means compassion, grace with deep feeling. It is in plural that means much or abundant grace of God. The guarantee of our full spiritual growth is never on our desire, pursuit, endeavor or hard work, but the full and complete mercies of God. We are save by the mercies of God, in the first 11 chapters of Romans, our fuller Christian life is also by the mercies of God. We can’t do anything to save our souls, and we can’t do anything to have the abundant life of God except from God. Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it in fullness (abundantly).” (John 10:10) Only by and through the mercies of God, we are able to give something back to God.
THESE WE NEED TO GIVE BACK TO GOD: (12:1-2)
1) First, give God your body: “To present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.” (12:1e) Paul assumed that all Christians have given God their souls, the spiritual part of a person. Next is we need to give our bodies to God as well. Most people are willing to give God their souls for salvation purpose, but few are willing to give God their bodies, the part we use everyday, go everywhere, seek our own interests and often we sin in our bodies. Paul insisted that we do not just give God our souls, we also need to give God our bodies so God can work though them to make their desires, actions and words holy and acceptable to Him. God wants not just to save our souls He also wants to save our bodies from corruption and sin.
2) Then, give God your mind: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (12:2a)The mind is where we perceive, learn, analyze and put value in things on which we make decisions and choices. A true Christian should also give God that part under His control so we will see, feel, understand and make choices in God’s way and not our way. To achieve this, On the passive side, we must not allow the world to continue “mold” our mind, to lead us to “conform” with what the world sees, feels, values and chooses. On the active side, we need to continue the process of renewing, changing, reforming and realigning our mind so we will think, see, choose and make decisions that will please God.
3) We also give God our will: “You may prove what the will of God is.” (12:2b)The will of God is the same as the purpose of God. God has a purpose for each one of us how to live, what to do what to achieve the part of His life in our life. Often times, our will is in conflict with the will of God---we want to do our things, our way. So, if we are truly God’s children, we need to surrender the “will” part to God, to take God’s will as our will, His purpose as our purpose and His way our way. We cannot claim to be God’s children and continue to live with our carnal will in sinful way.
4) We give God our values: “Which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (12:2c) This is the test many Christian fail---to see the will of God as good, acceptable and perfect. The core of the failure is because we use our own human understanding and personal value to measure God’s will and often times, they are not exactly good or acceptable or perfect to our like or dislike. Most of the times, God’s will is contradictory to our will. His way is not what we want or like. But we know that even so, His will and way is always better and higher than our will or way. So, it is our turn to surrender our value or standard to that of God so we can see that His will is always good and acceptable and perfect all the time.
THE PURPOSE OF GIVING BACK:
1) Give as a payback to God: “To offer (giving) your bodies as living sacrifices,” (12:1) “To offer” is “to lift up” a sacrifice on to the altar to give to God. God has offered His Son on the altar to die for us so we may be able to live. Now it is our turn to offer ourselves, body, soul, mind and will back to God. We owe God for what He had done for us. We are to pay Him back with our body, soul, mind and will and everything of our being.
2) Give as living sacrifices: “Offer your bodies as living sacrifice.” (12:1) God offered His Son as a sacrifice to die, so we may live. We offer God our life to God not to die but to live for Christ our Lord. The life of a true Christian is never to live for himself but for his Lord. Our life on earth is for God and His purpose. Paul says: “And He (Christ) died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but live for Him.” (2 Cor. 5:15)
3) Give as holy sacrifices: “Give your body a holy and acceptable sacrifice to God.” (12:1) God made it clear that no one should offer Him any sacrifice with blemishes. (Malachi 1:14) Giving God a broken sacrifice is an act of contempt. So, we are to live our life as “a holy sacrifice” that is acceptable to God. We are to give God our best, the most, not anything leftover or second class. This includes our intent, purpose and resources.
4) Give God spiritual worship: “This is your spiritual worship” (12:1) “Worship” means to adore, to praise, to revere, to show humility and respect. Worship is the most important part of all Christians and the church. Worshipping God is above all that we do in the church, even more important than mission. When we give our all as sacrifices to God, we show our spiritual intent to worship Him. It is more than sing a song, say a prayer, give few dollars or preach a sermon on Sundays. It is our everyday act of giving God our best and most to glorify His name, to bring joy and satisfaction to His heart. Act of worship from our soul.
1) How much has God given you: Look at your life and all you are and have, and see how much God has given you. Try to count all the blessings, start from salvation of your soul to all you are and have and think of how much God loves you and provides for you. “Do not forget all His benefits,” King David says. (Psalm 103:2)
2) How much will you give God: Giving back to God is not because God is lacking anything, but because it is our act of the heart, to show our gratitude, our acts of spiritual growth, a way to show adoration and thanksgiving, a testimony of our heart. It is only right that we know what to give and how to give back to God our very best intent, mindset, purpose, energy and resource. Do not be stingy in giving to God. You certainly don’t want God be stingy in giving His blessing to you.
3) You are welcome aboard: “God so loved all the people of the world.” (John 3:16) God is never stingy to anyone. He has abundant grace for all who will come to ask Him. He is waiting for you to come back to Him today. Open your heart to Him, ask for His forgiveness of your sins and allow Him to enter your heart to become the Lord of your life and Savior of your soul. Do not push away the call of God in your heart. Do it today. Do it now.