Thursday's Thought for Sunday's Service
August 24, 2017
This week’s Thursday’s Thought is based upon Romans 12:1-8:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
(Romans 12:1–8, NIV)
In preparation for today’s Thursdays Thought, the words that struck me in reading this passage are, “sober judgment.” I think about faithfully using sober judgement by applying: 1) a diligent pattern influenced by; 2) a continual, unbiased evaluation based upon facts.
I believe that following these two elements, one can learn how to discern and emphasize when and where to pull with just the right amount of energy in just the right places as an aid to solving problems. They can help in moving ahead with confidence. Repeated over time, they can support, stimulate, and sustain growth, building in ways that are increasingly expansive. Beyond this, exercising sober judgement also matters when participating with others by cooperating and sharing gifts.
Initial basis for the scriptural argument that the Apostle Paul makes for using sober judgment is rooted in being a “…living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” It seems then, that a worshipful posture is most important. For example, 1) one might take the opportunity every morning to speak a short prayer, even if it is the same prayer, serving as reminder. Throughout the day one’s actions would likely be 2) analyzed and influenced by the worshipful words spoken hours earlier. Good questions to ask are: “What words could I say in the form of prayer?” “How do they speak to God’s glory?”
And why would this work? Why not forget any morning prayer and just adopt a “me first” attitude? After all, doesn’t it seem in our world that “selfish” wins out a lot more than “selfless?” I’m not willing to concede that point. I don’t think there’s any practical, definitive answer, but I do think a selfless approach at least implies a willingness to work together with others a little more than a selfish one does. And from a theological, worshipful view that Paul emphasizes, intentionality in being together in community to glorify God, promotes sharing in ways that moves beyond our differences to accomplish things that can far exceeded anything any one person can do alone.
In this, his argument leads us to see how life is made better through sober judgment, more secure, and filled with greater bounty for all.
In this, we come to understand how sober judgment impacts, influences, integrates God’s mercy in our world.
In this, we soberly judge, test and affirm God’s will… through the way we live and worship, and care for the wider community.
Rev. Richard Wagner