What is an adequate response to God in view of all that He has done for you? It is not enough that you just speak words of gratitude to Him. Romans 12 (the entire chapter) is the answer to that question. In view of “the mercies of God”, here is what you should do:
1. First of all, present your body to Him as a living sacrifice (Rom.12:1). That word `sacrifice' indicates that it is going to cost you something to give your body to the Lord. Something has to be sacrificed - and that will be your strong self-will which wants to use your body - your eyes, hands, tongue and your senses and passions etc - to please yourself.
2. Present your mind (Rom.12:2), to be renewed - that is, to look at people and circumstances the way God looks at them. Here is where you will have to cleanse yourself, from impurity in the way you look at girls, from bitterness in the way you look at people who have harmed you, from partiality in the way you look at those whom you like and don't like, and from unbelief, worry and fear in the way you look at circumstances or the future. Always ask yourself, “How does God look at this person or this situation?” And cleanse yourself from every other way of looking at them.
3. Don't think too highly of yourself (Rom.12:3). It is the measure of your faith - and not the measure of your knowledge or your zeal - that is the real gauge of your spirituality.
4. Fulfil your ministry with whatever gifts and talents God has given you, to build the Body of Christ (Rom.12:4-8). Don't bury it in the ground (in the world), as the man with one talent did. Be zealous in serving the Lord (Rom.12:11), and pray (=listen to God and talk to Him) frequently (Rom.12:12).
5. Hate what is evil, and cling to what is good (Rom.12:9). Doing the latter will help you to do the former more easily.
6. Love and honour all the brothers - for they are the younger brothers of Jesus (Rom.12:9, 10). Be good to them (Rom.12:13). Rejoice when it goes well with any of them and grieve with those who are in sorrow (Rom.12:15). Have a humble attitude towards all - especially towards the poor and the less gifted ones in Christ's Body (Rom.12:16).
7. Love and bless all men, especially those who do evil to you (Rom.12:14, 17-21). Live at peace with all, as far as possible. Never take vengeance or desire anything bad for those who have been bad to you. Do good to them and thus overcome evil with good. The whole world is full of people who try to overcome evil with more evil. But evil can never conquer evil. Only good can conquer evil, because good is more powerful than evil. This is what Jesus demonstrated on Calvary. Persevere in the tribulations that God sends your way and rejoice in the hope that they are all designed to make you more like Jesus (Rom.12:12).
It is in these ways that we prove to God that we are indeed grateful to Him for all that He has done for us, and for the richness of His mercy towards us in forgiving us again and again.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon