The first eleven chapters of Romans are doctrinal in content, while the last five are more practical. In chapters 1-11 Paul tells what we should believe, and chapter 12 begins a section in which he tells how we should behave. This chapter is a call to put faith into action, and it begins with an appeal to believers to offer themselves to God as “living sacrifices” (v.1). If we will think of our lives as being totally given over to God for Him to use in whatever way He sees fit, we will be transformed into servants who are ready and willing to do anything He asks (v.2).
It is good to remember that we do not serve God in isolation and that we are not required to do or be everything. We are members of a body (the church), and each of us has a function to perform and a supernatural ability — a spiritual gift — to perform it. Some are gifted by God to show mercy, some are gifted to teach, and others are gifted to serve or lead in other ways. Like a human body, the church is most effective and efficient when all the interrelated parts are doing what they are supposed to do. We rely on each other in a gospel partnership that is so close that we are “members of one another” (v.5).
Whatever a believer’s spiritual gift or ministry may be, there are some things every Christian should do. Paul lists them in verses 9-21, and many of them echo the teachings of Jesus. At the top of the list is genuine love and honor for fellow believers, meeting needs and showing hospitality. Our love should motivate us to truly share our lives with our brothers and sisters in Christ, entering into their joy and their pain to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (v.15). We should be spiritually zealous, fervently serving the Lord as we prayerfully endure hardship. We are to return curses with blessings and evil with good. Instead of being haughty, we ought to be willing to do any task in ministry, even the most menial and lowly.
If we put our faith into action in these ways, Christ will be glorified, the church will be edified, and no one will be marginalized. Let’s do it!