There are many ways we try to motivate ourselves and others to be holy. Most of them begin with something like this: “You ought…” Paul uses a different carrot, and it is the most powerful motivation we can offer anyone.
When the Apostle turns the corner in Romans 12 from the doctrinal section of Romans 1-11 to the “practical” (as if the first eleven chapters weren’t the most practical teaching ever – they explain how to go to heaven) section of chapters 12 – 16, he makes an “appeal” and take note of how he does it…
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 (ESV)
In the next 5 chapters (12 – 16) he’s going to tell us how to live. He’s about to say things like…
* Use your spiritual gifts.
* Bless those who persecute you.
* Love one another.
* Submit to the government.
But you see, he certainly doesn’t tell us to do these things to earn favor with God, for in Christ, God is already favorably disposed to us…and he doesn’t say we must do these things “to be good Christians.”
Instead, he says, “by the mercies of God.” In other words, why should you and I be motivated to live our lives for Christ and His Kingdom? Answer: because he has been merciful to us, as demonstrated so clearly in the first eleven chapters. Because He has loved us by sending His one and only Son. This motivation – far more than the pointing and accusing finger or the “you ought” words of pressure – this is the truth that moves our hearts and feet to love and serve Him.
After all, as John said…
“We love…because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
Tomorrow, April 7: Romans 13