Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Minds (Romans 12:1–3)
To bring the communal aspect of salvation to life means a reorientation of our minds and wills from self-serving to community-serving.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Rom. 12:2–3)
Let’s begin with the second half of this passage, where Paul makes the communal aspect explicit. “I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think.” In other words, think less about yourself and more about others, more about the community. Later in chapter 12 Paul amplifies this by adding, “Love one another with mutual affection” (Rom. 12:10), “Contribute to the needs of the saints,” “Extend hospitality to strangers” (Rom. 12:13), “Live in harmony with one another” (Rom. 12:17), and “Live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18).
Equipping others for success
By Don Flow, Owner and CEO, Flow Automotive
Living love for Christian leaders is defined by the life of Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served. Equipping others is the appropriate use of power by leaders because it directs the purpose of the use of power to the enabling of the other to flourish in service to the community. Power used in this manner is an expression of a profound love and an appreciation for the unique giftedness of all people. It is not power over but power in service to the other. Power used in this manner releases the gifts of others. This means Christian leaders must have a deep knowledge of the people with whom they work, what their gifts are, and they must help each person understand how important their gifts are for the entire organization. Christian leaders will be committed to the importance of every person in the organization and to all of the work done. For Christians, there are no little people (Schaeffer) and there is no ordinary work (Lewis).
Source: Talk given at KIROS, Seattle, 2008.
The first part of this passage reminds us that we are unable to put others first without God’s saving grace. As Paul points out in Romans 1, people are enslaved to a “debased mind” (Rom. 1:28), “futile in their thinking,” darkened by “senseless minds” (Rom. 1:21), which results in doing every kind of evil to one another (Rom. 1:22–32). Salvation is liberation from this slavery of the mind, “so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Only if our minds are transformed from self-centeredness to other-centeredness—imitating Christ, who sacrificed himself for others—can we put reconciliation, justice, and faithfulness ahead of self-serving aims.
With transformed minds, our purpose shifts from justifying our self-centered actions to bringing new life to others. For example, imagine that you are a shift supervisor at a restaurant and you become a candidate for promotion to manager. If your mind is not transformed, your chief goal will be to beat the other candidates. It will not seem hard to justify (to yourself) actions such as withholding information from the other candidates about supplier problems, ignoring sanitation issues that will become visible only in the others’ shifts, spreading dissent among their workers, or avoiding collaboration on improving customer service. This will harm not only the other candidates but also their shift workers, the restaurant as a whole, and its customers. On the other hand, if your mind is transformed to care first about others, then you will help the other candidates perform well, not only for their sake but also for the benefit of the restaurant and its workers and customers.