“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God,” (Romans 12:1 ESV).
In The Christian Leader, Don Ratzlaff recounts a story from Ernest Gordon’s book, Miracle on the River Kwai. Set in some of the most difficult days of World War II, Ratlzlaff tells of Scottish soldiers who were forced by their Japanese captors to labor on a jungle railroad under cruel and barbaric conditions. In spite of their adversity, one afternoon something happened that would change the Scottish soldiers’ thinking from that point on. During the end-of-the-day tool check by the Japanese at each squadron, it seems that one particular squadron had a shovel go missing. Hearing this, the officer in charge became enraged. He demanded that the missing shovel be produced, or else. When nobody in the squadron budged, the officer got his gun and threatened to kill them all on the spot . . . It was obvious the officer meant what he had said. Then, finally, one man stepped forward for the sake of all the others. The officer put away his gun, picked up a shovel, and beat the man to death. When it was over, the survivors picked up the bloody corpse and carried it with them to the second tool check. This time, no shovel was missing. Indeed, there had been a miscount at the first check point. The word spread like wildfire through the whole camp. An innocent man had been willing to die to save the others! . . . The incident had a profound effect. . . The men began to treat each other like brothers. When the victorious Allies swept in, the survivors, human skeletons, lined up in front of their captors (and instead of attacking their captors) insisted: “No more hatred. No more killing. Now what we need is forgiveness.” Sacrificial love has transforming power.
Because of Christ’s great love for us, we should live completely for him. If we truly understand the gospel, do we have any reasonable excuse not to serve him with all we are and all we have? It is only our own selfishness that would cause us to answer otherwise.
Following 11 chapters that describe the great mercies which God has graciously provided through the sacrificial love of Christ, Paul now turns his attention toward how we should respond. In chapter 12, he gives us three important truths to point us in the right direction:
(1) Offer your life to God as an act of worship (v.1).
(2) Change the way you think about your service to Christ (vs.2-8).
(3) Begin to love like never before (vs. 9-21).
Someone has said, “Christ’s love is a powerful, driving force in the lives of God’s children. The world is amazed that we would willingly accept the demands of this love. We Christians stand amazed, not at what some of us are willing to give in love to Christ, but that the world can read of Christ’s love for us and then walk away unaffected by his love. Something is truly wrong in the lives of men who witness such wondrous love for us and never reciprocate.”
There is a great hymn I learned as a young man that always reminds me of this. The lyrics call us all back to the thinking we need to recover today:
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be;
Let that grace now like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
– “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” Robert Robinson
Here’s a question worth reflection — What will you NOT do for the One who has done everything for you?