The verse for Chapter four of Stressed Less Living bible study is Romans 12:2. The most familiar version is taken from the New International Version (NIV) and starts off ‘Do not conform’. But I like the NLT version. This week I have spent some time in looking closely at this verse and was really impacted by God’s message in this one verse.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Romans 12:2 (NLT)
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world”. This verse starts with a very clear instruction that we are not to copy or reproduce the behavior and customs of this world. We are not to act like those who live in this world act. In the newer translation of the Bible, The Voice, this part of the verse states, “Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image.” As Christians we are created in the image of God. This instruction is telling us to look at the standards that we are using to measure what we do. What do I consider acceptable just because the world thinks it is acceptable? I need to set the bar where God instructs me to set it. I need to act and treat others like God has instructed me to. The standards of acceptable behavior and actions that the world has are much lower than what God sets for us. I pray that I can strive more each day to meet God’s standards.
“...but let God transform you into a new person”. To be someone new. To erase all the mistakes I have made and to begin anew. What hope this part of the verse brings! As I reflected on this, the chorus ‘Spirit of the Living God‘ comes to mind. The line that states, ‘break me, melt me, mold me, fill me’ in particular really speaks to me about letting God transform me. I can’t change my attitudes, behavior or actions on my own. I need God to do it. And more importantly, I need to LET GOD CHANGE ME!!! This is the key word in this part of the verse. LET. To allow God complete control over every aspect of my life in order for me to be transformed into a new person is a struggle that I have. I like to be in control of things. Letting go of control and letting God take control of my life is becoming easier, but it’s been long road to get here.
“…by changing the way you think.” It’s all about what is in my head. How do I think what is acceptable behavior is how I am going to act. In allowing God to transform me into a new person, I have to change the way I think. What I know to be God’s truth in acceptable behavior and actions for a Christian must be the same in my head as my heart. It is easy to know in our hearts what God wants us to do, but our heads sometimes create more ‘grey’ areas than is needed. As I reflected on what I think and compare it to the world’s view and God’s view, I was surprised to admit that I am not always completely on the side of God’s view. While I agree with all that God tells us to do, I have discovered that my standards have lowered towards the world’s view. I think it’s a combination of being lazy and just wanting to fit in with those around me. The easiest way to be in completely agreement with God’s view and to change the way I think to be in-line with God, I need to be immersed in his word and teachings. I have found over the last few weeks to have more clearer direction of what God wants me to do and say.
“Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, ” Did you notice how this sentence starts? The word ‘then’. I need to be changed first, then and only then will I finally learn to know God’s will for my life. If I want to know God’s will for my life, then I need to allow God to change me into a new person whose thoughts are not of this world. So all the times of praying for God to reveal to me what he wants me to do was delayed because I needed to change first!! God’s will can’t be known until we have changed the way we think. Once God has transformed us, then his will for our lives will become clear. As I read this and meditated on this part of the verse, I wanted to ask God why? I want to act like a two-year old and stomp my feet…Why make me wait until I change? Why can’t he just tell me his will first, then I’ll change? It is all about obedience. God wants me to be obedient to him, before I know how he is going to bless me. But I so want to know the ending first! I guess that’s the impatient part of me!!!
“…which is good and pleasing and perfect.” God’s will is good and pleasing and perfect. Do I acknowledge that God’s will is the best for me? As I reflect back over my life, I see there are many, many times that God’s will is the best for me. But I also see there are many times where I fought him on the changes that needed to happen in my life in order for his will to happen. In my heart I know that God’s way is best, but I want to do it my way. I think I have allowed the world’s view that I need to be completely independent, be able to do everything get in the way of being obedient to God. To fully acknowledge that his will for me is good, pleasing and perfect, I need to stop fighting him on the changes needed in my life.
Spending time this week just looking at this verse and praying this verse has allowed me to see areas of my life that are reflecting the world’s view and not in line with God’s views. It has allowed me to see where I need to be spending my time and energy on. By looking at the different translations of this verse and taking it part-by-part really helps in seeing a clearer meaning behind it.
“Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image.
Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind.
As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills
and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.”