I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God,
to present your bodies as a living sacrifice...
As Kevin Christopher mentioned in his sermon on Sunday, Sept 3, Romans 12 marks a turning point in the letter to the Romans. Chapters 1-11 have primarily concerned a description of the gospel of God. Chapters 12 through 16 will primarily concern the “so what” portion of the letter. This is not to say there wasn't practical instruction in chapters one through 11, or that the gospel will be absent from chapters 12 through 16. There is gospel and instruction in both sections of the letter. But each section of the letter has an emphasis. Romans 1 through 11: what God has done. Romans 12 through16: what does God's mercy means for how I live.
In the first part of Romans 12.1, Paul shows us how we are to view our lives in Christ. To change into Jesus' likeness—to obey God from the heart—we need to continually remind ourselves of God's mercies (which Paul described in Romans 1-11) and give ourselves to a lifestyle of sacrifice for the good of others. Paul is going to get more and more practical about what this looks like in the complexities of life, but the principle described in 12.1 is crucial. The way to give ourselves in self-sacrifice for the good of others is to view the manifold mercies of God.
Another way to look at this is that Jesus goes first and calls us to follow him. He picked up his cross for us, in our place. And in light of his great sacrificial love for us, he calls us to do the same.
Is there someone today you are struggling to love? View God's mercies.
Is there something difficult today that God is calling you to do? View God's mercies.
Let God's mercies be the basis of your sacrificial love.