Thursday of Pentecost 13 – Romans 11:33-12:8

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. 1I 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. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. I was at the post office not long ago. It was warm, the line was long. At one point, a woman ahead of me had enough and rather forcefully expressed her great displeasure at the performance of the postal employees. I could see from their faces that this was not the first time this had happened. It was ugly and unfortunate. She was an adult acting like a self-centered and ungoverned child. Paul helps you and me in this reading today. He first praises God for the creation. Sometimes, when the world seems particularly crazy, it might be tempting to think that God surely could not have made this place. He did make it. It is fearfully and wonderfully made, but, as Paul notes, we cannot figure out the mind of God. We should expect to be perplexed. I know that I am a little perplexed with what God has in mind right now. I must trust his promise that all things work for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8) Then Paul does something very important for us. He tells us that our bodies and what we do with them are our spiritual sacrifice. He urges us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed. This world tells us that our bodies are our possessions to do with as we like. Paul sees this another way and urges you to as well. This bodily life which we live is directed toward God. It is a sacrifice. Our lives are our spiritual worship. The world sees our behaviors through the lenses of desires and self-preservation. We see it another way. I don’t like standing in line at the post office either. Lately, my left foot has been bothering me and it hurts. At the same time, I can see that this is just going to be better if we all take our turn and have a little patience. Acts of mercy can be done cheerfully. Keep reading a little further in chapter 12 of Romans you will find that it is all bound together with love. The next time you find yourself in line, and it is moving slow, think of it as a way to serve Christ and neighbor. It gets less odious that way.

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