Have you ever wondered:
“Why do I always have to be the one to do the right thing?”
“Why do I always have to…
…turn the other cheek
…be honest and above board even when it costs me and it hurts
…allow people to say what they want without defending myself just for the sake of unity?”
Have you ever thought, “Why do I have to be the one that exhibits self-control?
Why can’t I take revenge?
Why do I always have to be the example?”
Well, for those of us in leadership, the answer is often, “Because you’re a leader, and you have to set an example.” It’s even worse if you’re a minister, because then your occupation demands that you carry the responsibility to reflect positively on the church, your denomination, and Christianity in general. Some days, when your flesh REALLY wants to slap that ignorant person that really needs to be slapped, the answer “because you’re a minister” gets a little old.
(Just keeping it real here, ladies.)
So what do you do when “because it’s the right thing to do” just doesn’t seem like enough motivation to do the right thing?
Turn to Romans 12 and read verses 1-2:
“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.”
Hmmmm….change in perspective.
Why should we choose to do the right thing even when we don’t want to?
Well, the answer has nothing to do with whether or not you’re a leader or a minister, or even if anyone is watching. As Christians, we are called to live godly lives and do the right thing “in view of God’s mercy.”
Because God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die on the cross to pay the price for OUR SIN,
Because God adopted us into His family even when we were far away from Him,
Because we are not condemned to Hell but offered eternal life through Christ, and because Christ’s death opened the door for us to have a relationship with God we are called to live differently.
Because Jesus presented Himself as a Living Sacrifice for us, we are called to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God.
How do we do this? By living lives that are holy and pleasing to God.
I have to admit, this Scripture just jumped off of the pages at me as I read it the other day. As Christians, we are called to live right because of what Jesus did for us.
When it goes on to say that this is how we truly and properly worship God, it kind of changes your perspective.
Think about it: The true and proper way to worship God is by living a holy life that is pleasing to Him.
Wow! This totally changes the equation.
Where I may have formerly thought, “I have to do the right thing because…” I now see that when I do the right thing it is literally an act of worship to God.
I turn the other cheek not because the other person deserves it, but as an act of gratitude for the mercy that Christ gave to me.
I choose to be honest and above board even when it costs me and it hurts, because of the price that Christ paid when He died on the cross for my sins.
I choose unity over division, because Christ didn’t defend Himself when He was falsely accused, but rather chose to walk the path of Calvary to pay for my sins.
I exhibit self-control as an act of worship to God.
I extend mercy rather than take revenge because God had mercy on me.
This and much more is my reasonable act of worship.
Because of what God did for me, I am called to live in a way that pleases Him.
If you want to make this new truth REALLY practical, continue reading Romans 12-16 where Paul gets specific about how we are to apply this principle to our lives.
Here are some of the highlights:
Romans 12:3-8 Live in unity.
Romans 12:10 “Honor one another above yourselves.”
Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Romans 12:13 “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice
Romans 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”
Romans 12:16 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
Romans 12:17 “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; and if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.'"
Romans 13:1-2 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Romans 13:6-7 “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
Romans 13:8 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
Romans 13:13-14 “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
And on and on Paul goes, teaching us that we should avoid sin, respond to people in love, and basically, choose to do the right thing “in view of God’s mercy”. The word “mercies” here denotes favor, kindness, and compassion shown to the undeserving.
Basically, because God chose to show us favor, kindness, and compassion even when He didn’t have to (because it isn’t like we earned it or deserved it) we are called to imitate His generosity and do the right thing and extend mercy to others as an act of worship to Him.
I have to admit reading seeing these verses in this new light really changed my perspective on some situations I was facing. You see, as I was reading these passages there were some areas in my life where I was tempted to do the wrong thing. Honestly, I probably could have excused my behavior according to the rational of the world. However, if I looked at these situations “through the view of God’s mercies”, my perspective was totally changed.
You see, from this angle, it wasn’t about the hardship doing the right thing was causing or whether or not the individuals involved deserved to be treated properly. “Through the view of God’s mercies” I realized that I deserved nothing yet had been given so much more. Out of gratitude, appreciation, and an attitude of worship, I was motivated to act in a way that was pleasing to God.
So “Why do I, as a Christian, always have to do the right thing?”
As an act of worship to the God Who extended unmerited mercy and grace toward me. I do it because I love Him, no matter the circumstances. It’s about my relationship with Him---not what’s easy, what other people deserve, or what my flesh wants to do.
In light of God’s mercy, we are to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
(It’s really good I read this verse before I saw that ignorant person that needed to be slapped again….otherwise, this article may have had a different ending. Just keeping it real, just keeping it real!)