An Abundant Life (part 2 of 3)

Sunday Feb 22nd, 2015

Insight into Abundance

While I don't have any simple formulas or quick fixes, I do believe that we can live life to the full as Jesus intends. Romans 12:2 points the way toward an abundant life. Paul writes, "Do not conform any longer 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." The world offers formulas for success, but God offers a transformed life that measures up to the kind of abundant life he wants for us. I'd like to highlight three things about this verse.

 First, the goal is living how God wants us to live. It is matching our lives to his good, pleasing and perfect will. If we can “test and approve” God’s will, that is, if we can adjust our lives to what God views as good, pleasing, and perfect, then we'll be experiencing the abundant life that Jesus has for us. The life God has for us is not intended to be drudgery but to be an incredible relationship with him that lasts forever (John 17:3). Being able to test and approve God's good, pleasing, and perfect will is not about finding the right rules to follow but about learning how to honor God in our relationship with him. Again, this is the goal presented in Romans 12:2 – for our lives to match God’s view of the good, pleasing, and perfect (complete) life. To get there, you need to look at the contrasting “forms” that are presented in the verse.

 However, some additional explanation of these terms “good, pleasing, and perfect” may be helpful. “Good” has the idea of being upright and beneficial. “Pleasing” has the idea of being acceptable and satisfying. “Perfect” has the idea of being complete or mature, such as having all the parts work together for their proper purpose. So the kind of life God wants us to live is a life that is truly life to the full, a life that is beneficial, satisfying, and complete.

 Second, then, Paul indicates in Romans 12:2 that our "form" is important. When Paul tells us we should not conform to the pattern of this world, he's saying that what the world offers is inadequate for true living. If we match our lives to that pattern, we'll fall short of what life should be. But then Paul tells us that we should be transformed. Having a pattern that we follow is not bad. Whether we try to match our lives to someone else's pattern or if we make our own mold, we all form our lives to something. Paul tells us to move away from the patterns or molds that look like the world and toward a pattern that is beyond this world. We are to be transformed or changed into something better. The pattern we should follow is not of this world but of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).

Third, according to Romans 12:2, the means to being transformed is "the renewing of your mind." Renewal implies that our thinking changes, it becomes different, it changes for the better. To renew your mind is to readjust how you think or to reestablish proper thinking. The very next verse points this out: "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 measure of faith God has given you" (Rom. 12:3, emphasis mine). We renew our minds by reconsidering how we think about ourselves. It is a rethinking of what your priorities and motives are.

Paul says that we should not conform to the pattern the world has set but that we should be transformed into the pattern Christ has set. And the way we do that is by changing the way we think about ourselves. It is a change of perspective. We need to change our perspective from letting the world dictate what our lives will look like. Instead, we need to choose to take the perspective that Jesus Christ is central to our existence. We should think sensibly and not too highly about who we are in relation to Christ. When we readjust and reestablish our thinking in a way that lines up with Christ and his ways at the center of our lives, then our lives can be transformed and we begin to live abundantly as Jesus intends for us.

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