7 Therefore accept one another, just as Christ also accepted you, to the glory of God.
A bit of background to begin. The apostle Paul is in Corinth when he pens this personal letter to believers in Rome, a city he has yet to visit and a group of folks (he mentions 26 of them by name) whom he only knows by reputation. After a couple of paragraphs of greeting, he takes the remainder of the first 11 chapters of the letter to lay out doctrine and theology that guides the church until this very day.
At the beginning of chapter 12 he opens with “therefore,” which tells us that what he has just said now has a practical application. For the next three chapters of the book, he points Christ followers to practical Christian conduct regarding every earthly relationship they have. Everything in these meaty chapters point back to Romans 12:1—“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.”
Let’s highlight just a few of these tenets (all from the NIV):
- 12:3 – Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.
- 12:10 – Honor one another above yourselves.
- 12:13 – Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
- 12:14 – Bless those who persecute you and do not curse.
- 12:17 – Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
- 13:1 – Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities.
- 13:8 – Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another.
- 14:1 – Accept him whose faith is weak without passing judgment on disputable matters.
- 14:19 – Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
- 15:1 – We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak.
Do you see a theme developing? Huge portions of graciousness, humility, godly consideration of others first, and caring for those less fortunate, less learned and less accomplished. These bullet points are what it looks like to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice.”
We should also not miss viewing these verses through the lens of the life of a man who just few short years before was literally going house-to-house and dragging followers of Jesus to persecution, sometimes imprisonment, abuse and even death. Paul, the once proud “Pharisee of the Pharisees,” is now writing eloquently to a gathering of new believers in Rome with strong suggestions that are almost unfathomable for those who once knew him by a different name.
Let’s put a “why” on the “how” and bring this to a close with today’s verse. Nearly four full chapters of the book of Romans are dedicated to Christian conduct because of the two-pronged closing of Romans 15:7—“just as Christ welcomed you” and “to the glory of God.” May we all continue pressing on in this gospel transformation that will be complete on the day of Christ.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Read Romans 12, 13, 14 and 15 in one sitting. Find three aspects of how you interact with those in your circle of influence that you KNOW you can improve upon. Highlight them and then make a note with a person’s name attached to a specific verse. For example, “I should think of ???? more highly than I do of myself.”
- Welcoming is the act of practicing Christ-like hospitality. Is there one in your sphere to whom you haven’t been the most hospitable in recent weeks?
- Paul’s writings in these chapters are chocked full of gracious humility, the opposite of which is pride. Take a good hard look at your innermost self. Ask God to reveal the root of your conduct and to help you turn toward more godly conduct.
Pray with thanksgiving today for the truth of Jesus and His missional heart and obedience to make a way through the cross for us to be in relationship with God. Thank God for placing you purposefully for gospel impact and yield this aspect of your life to Him completely.