Lesson 42

The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

12:4 For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members donít have the same function, 12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 12:6 Having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, if prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith; 12:7 or service, let us give ourselves to service; or he who teaches, to his teaching; 12:8 or he who exhorts, to his exhorting: he who gives, let him do it with liberality; he who rules, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil. Cling to that which is good.

Today's Lesson 

Paul's lesson on what our relationship to one another should be begins in earnest with this passage. In verses one through three he laid the groundwork by concisely expressing what our relationship with God should be. We are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice before God. We are to no longer conform to the patterns of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Now Paul tells us how we are to relate to one another through Christ.


The basis for Christian ethical behavior within the church is given in verse 5. In Christ, "we who are many, are one body." Because we are made one with Christ, we are also "individually members of one another." Because I am a member of the body of Christ, I am intimately connected with every other member of the body. We are one, even as we are one with Christ. This unique relationship is founded on, and exists through, faith in Jesus Christ.


For Paul, all of Christian service flows from these basic points. Because we are part of a body, we have unique gifts and roles within that body. The members of the body do not do exactly the same thing. The hand is similar to, but different from the foot. The arm and the leg are similar, but perform separate and unique functions. In the same way, each of us has separate functions within the body of Christ. Each of us is given gifts and is called for a certain type of work within the body.


Paul admonishes his readers that whatever task is set for them in the body of Christ, to perform that task with the full measure of faith that has been given by God. If I find myself in a position to support another member of the body, I am to support that brother or sister in Christ with the full measure of faith that God has given to me. If I am called for a time to exercise a leadership position, I am to do that as well from the full measure of faith that God has given me. Always we are to relate to one another through our mutual relation in Christ.


When Christians relate to one another in this fashion, friction and jealousies cease. We should not be discouraged when it seems as though the Christian people that surround us do not act in this manner. The body of Christ does work in this way, but sometimes it takes a LOT of faith to see it! There are many reasons why it would seem to be otherwise. Just as Paul said that not all Israel was Israel, not everyone who attends church services and professes belief in Christ is a member of the body of Christ. We can be certain that at least a remnant of the outward church will be saved, but beyond that, the judge and the arbiter of such things can only be Christ Himself.


My task is to relate to Christ, who is the head of His body. As I relate to Him, He will draw me into contact with the other members of His body. I serve all with whom He brings me into contact. Some of those are members of His body; some of them are not. Christ had a way of treating all people the same way. That's because He always saw His relationship with other people through the perspective of His relationship with His Father.


Finally, Paul ends this section with three beautiful thoughts. "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil. Cling to that which is good." These thoughts ring true to our souls because they are true. Of course we should abhor evil. Of course we should cling to that which is good. But often we loose our perspective and fail to do just that. We become so overwhelmed with the evil in the world and so demoralized by the evil that we see in our own hearts that we just quit abhorring evil. We become accustomed to it. As members of the body of Christ, we owe it to ourselves to live lives where love is free of hypocrisy. Lives where we cling to that which is good. We owe it to each other too. Most of all, we owe it to Christ!


Are you prepared to take up your place in the body of Christ with the full measure of faith that God has given to you? Maybe you feel as though you don't have much faith at all sometimes. Are you willing to give what little you have? Are you willing to give all that you have been given?


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