Friday, May 22, 2015

Serving our great God by the strength of His tender mercies

Romans 12:1 "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."

When we consider the above passage, Paul is writing in light of all he expressed in Romans 11:33-36. The word "therefore" indicates that what he is about to write follows from what he just wrote about - namely God's greatness. How a Christian serves God is the chief concern of Romans 12:1-13. When we serve God, we are not talking about some slavish, dutiful, drab, gritting-of-the-teeth type of commitment. To serve God is not something I just do out of my own strength or that you do out of your own ability. As Christians, we cooperate with the Holy Spirit Who brings down to us God's greatness in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Commentator Warren Wiersbe notes: "The motive for dedication is love; Paul does not say, “I command you” but “I beseech you, because of what God has already done for you.” We do not serve Christ in order to receive His mercies, because we already have them (3:21–8:39). We serve Him out of love and appreciation." Quite literally, to serve God is to serve with Him. So how is it that we serve God with His greatness? What does the Holy Spirit do in enabling Christians to serve the Lord in a lifestyle of worship? It all begins by noting how the Holy Spirit administers His "tender mercies".

The tender mercies of God - the strength for effective ministry and service
Paul again states in Romans 12:1 "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." Why are the Spirit's dispensing of tender mercies the power source in our service to God? 

1. The joy of Spirit-wrought tender mercies
What is there about these "mercies" that makes rendering oneself as a living sacrifice a joyful privilege? God's tender mercies are His deep and tender affections towards His people. Do not think of the term "mercies" as a weak term. To know that God is already for me in my service to Him means I have nothing to fear - no demon, no person and no situation. When a person realizes how much tender mercy and affection God has chosen to express towards them, that person will find service to God a delight rather than a drudgery. Coupled with the notion that the Spirit Himself is the One responsible for the dispensing of such mercies - we find service to God to be an empowering and enjoyable experience.

2. The power of Spirit-wrought tender mercies
Philippians 2:1-2 gives us the perfect cross-reference to Romans 12:1. Notice what Philippians 2:1-2 says - "So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind." The word translated "affection" is the same word translated in Romans 12:1 by the phrase "tender mercies". Clearly the tender mercies of God that are responsible for empowering our service to God are the result of the Spirit's activity in conjunction with our own. 

3. The provision of Spirit-wrought tender mercies
Scripture elsewhere testifies to how the Lord grants us mercies to do His work. Lamentations 3:22-24 reminds us - "The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” When I consider what Jeremiah wrote here in Lamentations, I often think about each day of the Christian life as having situations that have different costs attached to them. Some situations will be 50 cent situations, others one dollar and if its really big - ten dollars. Every morning, God lays out for me His tender mercies - that is - His grace empowered enablements by His Spirit. For simplicity's sake, lets say today the Spirit had laid out for me $5 worth of mercy to take care of $4 worth of problems. Whatever may come our way, we have more than enough to handle it. But now lets say at the last minute of the day something goes wrong that I have no ability to address until the next day. Now the question arises: do I panic or press into God? Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." In other words, God will have fresh mercies ready for tomorrow to address tomorrow's troubles. He gives us what we need for today. When we understand how His mercies work, and how the Spirit gives to us exactly what we need, we learn the secret to walking daily by faith in His service.  

4. The dependance taught by Spirit-wrought tender mercies
David for instance makes mention often of God's mercies at work in his life. 2 Samuel 24:14 records David in a time of great distress, looking to God's tender mercies - "And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man." Here David draws strength from what are literally God's expressions of pity and compassion towards him. The manner of mercy which David experienced in his life was to such a degree that scripture elsewhere uses it as a standard way of expressing how God displays His power. The greatest example of the power of such mercies is found in Acts 13:34 "And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David." It is because of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead that we have access by His Spirit to all the spiritual blessings of God, including His mercies. The great lesson of depending on God for everything in service to Him only comes through interracting with Spirit-wrought tender mercies in our lives. 

Closing thoughts:
It makes sense as to why Paul would urge his readers by means of the tender mercies of God. The strength supplied and worked forth by the Spirit in these tender mercies strengthens Christians to serve our great God. By these tender mercies spoken of in Romans 12:1, the Spirit does four things: 

1. Works forth joy
2. Works forth power in the Christian
3. Works forth provision 
4. Works forth dependance upon God. 

Such tender mercies from the Spirit of God are what makes service to God so empowering and enjoyable. To know that God is truly for us and on our side, to know that we already have His favor is motivation and power enough to serve Him most effectively. As the Bible Knowledge Commentary notes - "In the light of Paul’s closely reasoned and finely argued exposition of the mercies of God (Rom. 1–11), such an offering is obviously a desirable response for believers."

No comments:

Post a Comment