Worship is what we do with our lives, not something which is restricted to a few hours in a church building. Paul, in Romans 12, has urged us to offer our whole lives to God in worship and has shown us that our thinking needs to be transformed too. In Romans 12;3-8, he goes on to show that this kind of radical offering and sacrifice leads to humble service.

Humble service, however, starts with a right view of ourselves. “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.” (Rom 12:3) Life is a little bit like a tightrope walk. We can either fall off by having an over-inflated opinion of ourselves or by having an exaggeratedly low opinion of ourselves. Either extreme is wrong. Instead, we need ‘sober judgment’, viewing ourselves as Christ sees us, understanding how much God loves us and learning godly contentment (1 Tim 6:6, Hebrews 13:5). That way, we have the security of knowing whose we are and can serve freely, because we have nothing to prove. Our identity and calling are secure.

The body metaphor of the church is taken up in 1 Corinthians 12, but Paul makes the point here that there is a natural diversity in the church, just as there is in the body. We all have different functions and roles, but we are all important. We all have different talents and giftings. In the list that follows, Paul seems to randomly pick certain acts of service, mixing up the order to include those we view as ‘spiritual’ (such as prophesying or teaching) with those which we tend to think of as more unimportant (such as serving or encouraging.) His point, surely, is to show us that all acts of service are important and that there is no hierarchy of service. Instead, there is simply the need to fulfil our calling, doing the things that God has equipped us to do, according to the faith He has given us. It’s pointless comparing ourselves to others, longing for talents we don’t have or being dissatisfied with who we are. Instead, we do what we can: whether prophesying, serving, encouraging, teaching, giving, leading or showing mercy. The list is not exhaustive, and Paul will focus on other acts of service in other parts of the Bible. Our part is to understand who we are and to serve thankfully and humbly from grateful hearts that understand the debt we owe to God and are not willing to hold anything back from Him. As Tim Hughes sings, ‘I am chosen, I am free, I am living for eternity’. Having been given so much, we then say ‘And nothing’s going to hold me back.’ (‘Holding Nothing Back’, Tim Hughes)