On this damp. dark rainy morning this morning before my gorgeous bride awakes, I open up the Bible app on my phone. I’m sitting in a fairly darkened living room with only one light from the kitchen easing its way through the adjoining dining room to faintly grace the opposite corner of the couch where I rest. I like sitting in the dark. There’s a verse in the Bible that says something like some men like darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. I have had my fair share of “evil deeds,” but this morning’s Bible app deed I don’t believe is one of them.
I turn to Romans 12 and for some reason I switch from reading the New International Version to the Message. It’s just a whim and I need to be careful with whims because my deeds can be evil as I have already admitted. This whim leads to this small portion of the Message version of Romans 12, verses one and two: “Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” I stop there on a whim to think more on this thought.
“Embracing what God does for you” – The use of the word embracing grabs hold of me. I decide to look up a definition of “embrace.” Because my evil deeds come from a tainted brain and a sinful heart, I don’t always trust my connotation of the word embrace.
A Definition of Embrace
I Google “Embrace.” Since The Message uses the verb form in the sentence, I look at the definitions Google Dictionary ascribes to the verb. I find two.
- hold (someone)closely in one’s arms, especially as a sign of affection.
- accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly or enthusiastically.
Like Google Dictionary (and probably because of that tainted brain), I thought of the first definition first when I saw the word “embracing” in The Message version of Romans 12:1,2. My lovely wife got up about this time and because my mind was focused on “embracing,” I thought about embracing her. We’ve been married long enough for me to know that when my wife first gets up, especially on a work day, that it is better to embrace her after her first cup of coffee. Therefore, like we will do now in this post, I returned to my two definitions of “embrace.”
I decide that the second probably fits a biblical passage better. “Why?” you ask. I think it is the word “belief” found in the definition that drug me to this conclusion. So, I return to the Bible app and look up verses pertaining to the word “believe.” There are many. I narrow the search to the New Testament because a few that I once memorized are in the New Testament. There are still many. I’ll just share a couple.
Believe Strongly Can Also Mean Embrace
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well” 1 John 5:1 New International Version (NIV).
“And this is his command: to believe in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us” 1 John 3:23 NIV.
To embrace a belief is to believe strongly. These two verses define the fundamentals of the Christian belief which I do embrace. I strongly urge you to do the same.
My wife finishes her breakfast and pours her and me a cup of coffee. She hands me a cup and sits beside me. I enjoy this moment as much as any moment in my daily routine and much, much more than most other moments. I put down my Bible app and sit quietly sipping on my coffee. I watch my precious wife sip her coffee. She is so beautiful to me. I love the shape of her face. Her eyes were the first things I admired when I first met her.
I don’t say anything to her for a moment or two, but I can barely wait to speak to her. I want to allow her enough time to begin to embrace the day. I do this out of respect for her. I love her. I want what is best for her.
We speak, finally. It is not deep conversation. It definitely will not solve any world issues. What we talk about this morning won’t even solve any of our issues. We just enjoy each others company. Just knowing that there is someone who cares and wants to be close and continue to grow closer.
She and I sometimes do discuss more important issues. Sometimes we barely speak at all, but just enjoy sitting together quietly on the couch and watch the sun rise and fill the room with light. It’s beautiful how this simple togetherness seems to help draw us closer to one another.
But soon she has to get up and get ready for work. So, I return to my research.
Embrace Means Holding Someone Closely
Maybe my initial connotation for what The Message’s portion of Romans 12:1,2 is right. I thought about my wife and how much I want to hold her close, to be close. There’s times when holding her close helps troubles slide into their right perspectives.
I put the word “embrace” into search in my YouVersion Bible app and find that there weren’t many verses. But the two I chose were found in Song of Songs. Song of Songs is about the courtship of a king and his bride-to-be. I think it is a literary analogy of Christ and the believer or maybe even God and man. I also believe I prefer these two verses to explain the meaning of embracing in “Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”
“His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me” Song of Songs 2:6 NIV.
“His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me” Song of Songs 8:3 NIV.
What Does God Do For Me?
What does God do for me? This is a fair question in light of this verse portion. It is hard to embrace something we don’t know. I think sometimes we miss the things God does for us because we’re looking for big things, fantastic things, and miracles. We even miss some of the super things and miracles because we give credit to others or to being lucky, or we give ourselves more credit for strength, wisdom, and ability. So, it is hard to prove to the skeptic what God does and what is coincidence or natural circumstance.
It’s even hard for the believer to focus on what God has done or is doing when things aren’t going as planned or hoped. I know. I’ve been there and done that.
Not Trying To Convince the Unconvinced
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” Romans 12:1 NIV.
That is the verse “Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him” is derived. The above verse and the one that follows were given to me to help answer my question to an evangelist on how we can know we are in God’s will. I was an inexperienced, immature teen looking for a simple rule or formula for making sure I wasn’t doing anything to displease God.
Finally, one day, some thirty or forty some-odd years from that time, I figured out that the verse isn’t about doing the will of God, but it is about worshiping God. So, embracing, focusing on, accepting whatever God does for me is my true and proper worship. Worship Him is the best thing you can do for him.
Focusing on whether I’m in the perfect will of God or the acceptable will of God is focusing on what I do. That’s worship of me. That’s me trying to convince God why he should love me.
Where’s the Focus?
This portion is the way in which the authors of The Message unpack the next verse in Romans 12:1,2.
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”
Fix your attention – your worship – on God, not the cultural or religious norms. If you can do that most of the time, you’ll be changed spiritually.
Earlier, I shared how much I felt at peace even though I sat in a darkened room, quietly sipping coffee, not solving any issues, or working any project. I felt at peace because I was with the one I loved and the one who loved me. Was I worshiping my wife? No, I was embracing what God does for me. He lead a very special person into my life to love me and share life with me. But the greatest thing he does for me is that he gives me the capacity to love her as much or more than I love myself. That’s a miracle.
We Just Can’t Be Sitting Around Embracing
Nothing would get accomplished if all we did was sit in a darkened room sipping coffee and watching the sun come up. That is, nothing material or physical.
Romans 12 is about living life, but living it out in the best way possible. The chapter teaches us that we have a purpose. The author suggests that each of our different purposes grow out of the way were made and the diverse ways in which we function. It’s honest about the fact that there will be sorrow and rejoicing. There will be disagreements, but it shares how we should handle the disagreements, the ups and the downs.
Romans 12 encourages us to respond in unnatural ways. For instance, doing good to those who do us harm. As much as it is possible, live at peace with everyone. Do not repay evil for evil. Don’t be overwhelmed by evil, but overcome evil with good. These things can be humanly impossible.
That is why the chapter is the twelfth chapter in the book and begins with the needed spiritual change.
We find ourselves in a culture that is a dichotomy of acceptance and division. It is hard to know right from wrong. There is very little in the world that is completely evil or perfectly good. This chapter begins by telling us that we can know what is good, perfect, and pleasing. The Message states it this way.
“Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
To be our best, we need to be changing spiritually – from the inside. On our own, we will never discover our true self. We will not be able to help anyone else be their best by demanding they follow a set of Do’s and Don’ts.
We won’t be able to find true inner peace worshiping or embracing anything of this world. Those things may provide temporary peace but they will one day fail us.
The abundant life we all desire is the life for which we are created. I’m suggesting you seriously consider a life in a relationship with the one who created you.
Embracing God Is the Best Thing You Can Do
We began with the phrase “embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” We conclude with embracing what God does is the best thing you can do for you, too.
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I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at Amazon.com or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at email@example.com.