It Is Not What You Do But Why You Do It

Church Family: Let's say that you have two friends that you see weekly. You really love and enjoy them both. They both appear to be living the same kind of life externally. They do good works in their neighborhood and community. They are nice, active, morally good, giving and concerned about the well-being of our nation and our world. Externally, there is no real difference between either friend.

Internally, however, one friend’s behavior and service has nothing to do with God and they have no desire to please Him. In fact, they are opposed to any thought of there being a God who has established a standard of morality that is either good or bad. They simply live a good moral life because it benefits them and makes them happy.

Your other friend has a different reason for doing all that they do and say. They know and remember the riches of God’s mercy that has been heaped upon them. They know that they are God’s workmanship for good works. They know that they have been justified by faith in Christ. They know they have been united with Christ. They rejoice in being made alive with Christ. They know they have been foreloved, predestined, called, justified and glorified. They know they have been made sons and daughters of God. They know God’s Spirit has been placed in their hearts. They know that they can cry Abba, Father and He will respond. They know there is nothing that can separate them from the love of Christ. They know that they are joint-heirs with Christ. They remember the mercies of God and the many others and so they desire to show off God with their merciful behaviors. They live to show off the mercies of God that have been given to them by showing mercy to others. These behaviors have eternal implications and the rewards are eternal.

Each friend externally may have the same behaviors but internally they are doing them for completely different reasons. So, should the world see a difference in these behaviors externally from one friend to the other? Yes! Behaviors and actions and words fueled by remembering God's mercies given to us will make them joyful, loving, sacrificial, hopeful, long-suffering and gracious.

In Romans 12, Paul begins with a very large “Therefore” to show us that all of the doctrinal riches of Romans 1-11, must change our behaviors and why. It is not what you do but why you do it that really matters. Paul moves from doctrine to habits, from theology to ethics, from what is true about God in Christ and salvation to what we are to do with it in our everyday, lives. Paul wants us to understand that all our actions and behaviors have motives. Some motives please Him and many others do not. Paul does not want us as Christians to just go through life without asking the question, “why am I doing this?” We must have a reason for serving, giving, working, loving, and being morally good. Our behavior is to be informed. But with what? Our behavior must be informed by the mercies of God that are throughout Romans 1-11. Merciful behavior in your life is the best way to make God look mercifully great.

Here is Paul's list of merciful behaviors in Romans 12. God has been merciful to us in these ways and we are to do the same to others. We will get to these over the next many weeks.
Romans 12:9-21
1- Let love be genuine
2- Abhor what is evil
3- Hold fast to what is good.
4- Love one another with brotherly affection
5- Outdo one another in showing honor.
6- Do not be slothful in zeal
7- Be fervent in spirit
8- Serve the Lord.
9- Rejoice in hope
10- Be patient in tribulation
11- Be constant in prayer
12- Contribute to the needs of the saints
13- Seek to show hospitality.
14- Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them
15- Rejoice with those who rejoice
16- Weep with those who weep
17- Live in harmony with one another
18- Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly
19- Never be wise in your own sight
20- Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all
21- If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all
22- Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God
23- If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink
24- Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

See you Sunday, living God’s mercies: Steve

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