What is Reasonable Service?

Posted on June 22, 2011


In the twelfth chapter of Romans, Paul moves from an 11 chapter theology lesson to the practical application of that theology. After all, a vast knowledge of God is useless unless it produces a changed life, and unless you actually use that knowledge. So, lets look at those first two verses of Romans chapter 12, and see what Paul has to say about the practical use of that knowledge, through service.

Romans 12:1-2
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The first thing to notice here, is that Paul sees Christian service as an urgent issue. he says “I beseech you. . .” In other words, he is urging or begging them to commit to service. And there is a very real reason for that service, it is because of God’s mercy. So, our service to God should be a result of our love and gratitude for the mercy He has shown us. In short, we should desire to serve Him. If your Christian service ever becomes one of duty, just a chore, then you need to examine your heart.

Now in order to effectively serve God, Paul instructs his readers to offer their bodies as a “living sacrifice,” as opposed to a dead sacrifice such as goats and bulls. A dead sacrifice is useless, but a living sacrifice can accomplish much. Jesus may have died as a sacrifice for your sins, but He didn’t stay dead, He is alive!

Revelation 1:18
I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

Your entire body, your whole being, should be devoted to serve God. There is nothing that should be withheld, Jesus didn’t withhold anything, and neither should you. You should be alive, and eager to serve. You should be vibrant and enthusiastic, your service full of joy and praise. Paul goes on to say that you are to be holy. That doesn’t mean perfect, it simply means to be set apart for God. You belong to Him, and you should act like it.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Romans 8:9
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

The only way to be holy is to accept the sacrifice of Jesus and to trust Him as your savior. This is what makes you acceptable to God, and to be “acceptable” simply means pleasing. Can a compromised lifestyle ever be truly acceptable to God?

Paul says all this to say that this is your “reasonable service” The Greek word that is translated as service, is “logikos.” This is the word from which we derive our english word “logic.” It means “reasoned, intelligent, or well thought out,” which is the way we should serve and worship God. We should desire to feed on His word, so that we can grow.

1 Peter 2:2
as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

You should be diligent in your studies, so that you truly understand the Word of God, and can rightly divide it.

2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

As a Christian, you need to always be ready to explain your beliefs.

1 Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

You need to know what you believe, and why you believe it!

Furthermore, the word for service in this verse can aIso be translated as “worship,” which it is in some translations. Imagine that, service and worship are intertwined. You can’t have worship without service, and when you serve you are worshipping. James reinforces this by telling us that we need to prove our faith by our works. Our works don’t save us, by they are the outward manifestation of our salvation.

James 2:17-18
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

So, we see that the way in which we serve and worship should be well reasoned and thought out. It should be intelligent service, one with a well thought out purpose, which is deeply rooted in the Word of God, and not driven purely by emotion. This is totally contrary to the way many churches “worship” God today. All too often, worship services are driven by emotion, it’s all about how it makes you feel. The problem is that the Word of God is only a side note, with the emphasis being on emotion based entertainment. People leave feeling as if they’ve been stirred, but in no time, they are right back to where they started. No change has taken place. A true encounter with God will always be a life changing experience, not a momentary flood of emotion. It will be marked by a sense of conviction, which is inevitable when an imperfect sinner is in the presence of the Almighty God.

To sum it all up, we’ll look at Romans 12:2, which reminds us that we cannot get caught up in worldly practices, because a compromised lifestyle is never pleasing to God. Nor can we view Christianity as just a philosophy, it must involve life-changing faith. Verse two also reminds us that spiritual reformation starts in the mind. Remember the proverb:

Proverbs 23:7
7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. . .

If one thinks about serving God with all the fervor and zeal he can, day in and day out, he will serve God. Your mind controls your body, and your will controls your mind.

Many people think they can control their will with willpower, but they usually fail. In Romans 7:15-21, Paul talks about his own struggle with willpower. He knows what he shouldn’t do, he doesn’t want to do it, but he does it anyway. Does this sound familiar? It is only when we yield to the will of God, that His power can take over. His power gives us the willpower (and the won’t power) that we need to be victorious Christians. We need to pray “Not my will, but Your will be done,” and let God have His way. For us to yield to God’s will, is the perfect will of God.

And such is the key to reasonable service. It requires actual knowledge. It requires knowning what you believe and why you believe it, which leads to knowing how you should serve. It’s time to start thinking about and understanding your faith.

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