Feb 10, 2011 Obligations of Objects of Mercy
Originally posted on February 9, 2007
Obligations of Objects of Mercy
You have heard it said that with privilege comes responsibility. A Romans way of saying that is, objects of mercy have obligations. The good news is that the obligations of being shown mercy are themselves mercies of God. To do what God says is to be done in light of His mercy toward us is to do that which is good for people, brings us deeper joy in Christ, and glorifies our Father who is in heaven.
What are the Mercies?
The best way to understand what the mercies of God are is to look at what was written prior to the writing of Romans 12:1, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God ” Since Paul mentioned “mercies” in this verse without explanation, he must have explained what the mercies are in what he had previously written. The mercies of God are expounded in the first eleven chapters of Romans. These mercies include the sending of Jesus Christ to be the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins (Romans 3:21-26); justification before God of all who have faith in Christ (Romans 5:1); adoption into the family of God (Romans 8:14-17); the presence of God’s Spirit in the heart to communicate love, kill sin, and help in weakness (Romans 5:5, 8:9-26); and the promise of conformity to Christ and of future glory (Romans 8:28-30). The list of other mercies from God is as long as the days of our lives (Lamentations 3:23).
What are the Obligations?
Romans 12:1 also tells us that as objects of mercy, we have certain obligations, “ present your bodies as living and holy sacrifices, acceptable to God.” To be sure, the obligation that we have as objects of God’s mercies in not to pay Him back for His mercy. God never requires a payback, nor could we every pay back enough to match the depths of His mercy. Don’t try to pay God back! You will fail and offend the mercy of God at the same time.
The obligation of objects of mercy is to respond to the God of mercy in a way that is an appropriate acknowledgement of His mercy. Appropriate responses to God’s mercy include:
- complete entrustment of our whole selves (body, mind, emotions, capacities) to God (Romans 12:1)
- humility in the way we think of ourselves (Romans 12:3)
- service and love for others (Romans 12:4-13)
- mercy toward those who offend us (Romans 12:14-21)
- respect for the government God has placed over us for our wellbeing (Romans 13:1-7)
- moral and relational purity (Romans 13:11-14)
- care for and refraining from judgment of the conscience of others (Romans 14-15)
These responses are not paybacks to God for mercy. They are acts of obedience to God that reveal that we are fully aware that who we are and all we have is by His mercy.