Romans 12:1 I beseech you...that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice
Bruce R. McConkie
"Sacrifices are of two kinds: living and dead, or in other words, temporal and spiritual. Under the law of Moses, animals were slain in similitude of the coming sacrifice of the Son of God; such were temporal sacrifices, sacrifices involving death. But under the law of Christ, men are called upon to make living sacrifices, to sacrifice themselves by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 292.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the 'sacrifice unto the Lord ... of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,' (D&C 59:8), a prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving 'away all [our] sins' in order to 'know God' (Alma 22:18) for the denial of self precedes the full acceptance of Him." ("Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness," Ensign, May 1995, 68)
"The most effectual way to establish the religion of Heaven is to live it, rather than to die for it: I think I am safe in saying that there are many of the Latter-day Saints who are more willing to die for their religion than to live it faithfully. There is no other proof can be adduced to God, angels, and men, that a people faithfully live their religion, than that they repent truly of their sins, obey the law of baptism for the remission of sins, and then continue to do the works of righteousness day by day." (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 221.)
Romans 12:2 be not conformed to this world
Neal A. Maxwell
"We cannot improve the world if we are conformed to the world (see Rom. 12:2). The gospel represents constancy amid change, not compliant adaptation to changing fashions and trends. Firm followers of Jesus, therefore, will not be mere chameleons-adapting their colors to match the ever-changing circumstances by simply blending in." ("Popularity and Principle," Ensign, Mar. 1995, 15)
Romans 12:2 but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind
Being truly born again means a renewal of body, mind, and spirit. Here, Paul speaks of the renewal of the mind-a process by which the thoughts of the natural man are replaced with 'the mind of Christ' (1 Cor. 2:16). But this process involves the renewal of the spirit and the body as well, for the faithful 'are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies' (DC 84:33).
M. Russell Ballard
"Listen to the language of the scriptures as they describe the level of sacrifice the Lord requires of us: 'Offer your whole souls as an offering unto [God]' (Omni 1:26; see also Mosiah 2:24). 'Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God' (Rom. 12:1). The Lord Himself has said that we should keep our 'covenants by sacrifice-yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command' (D&C 97:8). The sacrifice the Lord asks of us is to wholly rid ourselves of the 'natural man' (Mosiah 3:19) and all the ungodliness associated with it. When we completely surrender ourselves to the Lord, then He will cause a mighty change in us and we will become a new person, justified, sanctified, and born again with His image in our countenances (see Mosiah 5:2; Alma 5:14; Moses 6:59-60)." (The Law of Sacrifice," Ensign, Oct. 1998, 13)
Romans 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ
"'We, being many are one body in Christ.' (Rom. 12:5.) 'One spirit, with one mind striving together.' (4 Philip. 12:5.) 'Now I beseech you, brethren in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. . . . Is Christ divided?' (1 Cor. 1:10, 12.)...Paul clarifies that unity does not demand that we all act the same, giving up all individuality. 'Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. . . . Differences . . . and diversities . . . but it is the same God which worketh all in all.' (1 Cor. 12:5-6.) Our unity is not sameness, rather a unity that comes from agreement concerning Christ and His living doctrines. We become unified with Christ and with one another because our purpose is the same." (Virginia H. Pearce, "Paul's Mandate...", LDS Church News, 1995, 10/28/95)
Romans 12:6-8 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given... whether prophecy... ministering... teaching; Or... exhortation
Bruce R. McConkie
"Members of the Church should use, and be called to positions which enable them to use, the specific talents and gifts with which they are endowed. Musicians belong in the choir, preachers in the pulpit, teachers in the classroom, and prophets in positions of presidency. Those who can influence the young and rising generation for good should be appointed to do so; those having converting power and zeal should labor as missionaries; and those with financial and business ability should be assigned to build up the kingdom temporally. A bishop may not be a farmer, nor an apostle a financier; but there will be others who can serve in these areas. And one of the talents of superior leaders is their ability to call the right person to serve in the right position at the right time." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 293.)
Romans 12:8-21 A Great Admonition from Paul
In the thirteenth article of faith, Joseph Smith references 'the admonition of Paul' found in Philip. 4:8. The Prophet said, 'we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul' (A of F 13). But in Romans 12, we find another admonition from Paul-one which may be even more important for us to follow. Herein, he describes the attributes of godliness which each latter-day saint should strive to develop. They are the qualities which separate the latter-day "saints" from the rest of the members of the church. Some have asked, "Are you a 'saint' or just a 'Mormon'?" The difference between the two can be seen in how well we follow this great admonition from Paul.
"Several years ago a husband and wife, both active members of the Church, came to me professionally with very serious marital problems. Both said, 'How could this be happening to us? We have a temple marriage. We have kept the commandments. We pay our tithing, keep the Word of Wisdom, attend the temple regularly, and serve the Lord faithfully in our Church callings. It just isn't fair! Why aren't we blessed with a happy marriage?'
"I opened the Doctrine and Covenants and had them read verses twenty and twenty-one of Section 130. 'There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated- [D&C 130:20-21] And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.'
"I told them that they had been blessed for keeping the laws they had obeyed but that the Lord could not bless them with a happy marriage unless they kept the laws that apply to happy marriages...They inquired what those might be, and I referred them to section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants. There the Lord provides instruction in the exercise of righteous leadership (see especially verses 34-46) and to chapter twelve of Romans where Paul outlines the laws governing unity in any unit of the Church. [D&C 121:34-46]
"They candidly acknowledged that despite the guidance offered in Doctrine and Covenants 121, they did not in fact exercise their joint leadership responsibilities 'only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge ... without hypocrisy and without guile.' (D&C 121:42.) Rather, they engaged in constant power struggles over who was right and who was wrong and used all kinds of strategies to 'win' in the family arena.
"They admitted that contrary to Paul's counsel in Romans 12 their expectations of each other were all too 'conformed to this world' (Rom. 12:2); that each was given to thinking of himself and his own opinions 'more highly than he ought to think' (Rom. 12:3); that there was insufficient positive appreciation for the ways they were different (Rom. 12:4-6); that there was a shortage in their home of mercy, cheerfulness, love, and kindly affection, 'preferring one another' (Rom. 12:8-10). They acknowledged that they had not always rejoiced when their partner rejoiced or wept when he or she wept (Rom. 12:15), that they were often not 'of the same mind one toward another' (Rom. 12:16), and that they did not strive as much as they possibly could to 'live peaceably' with each other (Rom. 12:18). Finally, they confessed that they had never mastered the rule to 'avenge not yourselves' instead of giving 'place unto wrath' (Rom. 12:19), or to 'be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good' (Rom 12:21).
"In short, I told them, they were in some ways in the situation of those who 'pay tithes of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought [they] to have done, and not [left] the other undone.' (Matt. 23:23.)
"...you can be assured of a rewarding, enduring heaven-bound marriage if you obey the laws that govern this part of life. They are among the highest and most challenging laws in all of the gospel; no other reward is so great as that promised by the Lord to those who keep them." (Carlfred Broderick, "I Have A Question," Ensign, July 1983, 45)
Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation
Paul means that love should be shown without hypocrisy. Nothing is more nauseating than the fake smile of a phony saint. They will tell you they love you but they won't lift a finger to help you. Such "dissimulation" is disgusting. Their expressions are worn like a mask, but the smiling face and beguiling words can't hide the true character of their hearts.
"I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the long, smooth-faced hypocrite." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 303)
Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord
Elder Sylverster Q. Cannon
"It is important that everyone should learn the value of hard work. The Lord commanded Adam, and through him, all his descendants, that we should eat our bread in the sweat of our face or, in other words, by earnest effort, whether we labor physically or mentally. Mental labor is often just as strenuous, and just as important, if not more so, than physical labor. Ordinarily, whether our vocation is chiefly physical or mental in character, we have occasion to use both powers in that which we have to do. Well-balanced development involves sustained physical as well as mental efforts. Paul the apostle declared: 'Be not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.'" (Conference Report, October 1928, Second Day-Morning Meeting 51.)
Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation
Elaine L. Jack
"For me, to live in despair is not to live. I cannot imagine life without hope. Perhaps this is because I learned early that hope is a personal quality, essential for righteous living. In fact, hope is one of the personality traits of godlike men and women. Paul explained that members of the Church who wish to live 'acceptable unto God' (Rom. 12:1) are in part characterized as those 'not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.' (Rom. 12:11-12.)
"Recently I read an article about a Cambodian family who had endured unimaginable suffering. At the end of a particularly arduous day, the mother gathered the family together and taught, 'Remember, children, hate does not end with more hate but with love. And from that we take hope. Without love and hope, our lives will be empty.' What a wise mother!
"My own dear mother taught me a lot about love and hope. She was ill for many years, yet she was such a bright, hopeful person. She taught me that in any circumstance those who are 'acceptable unto God' can be recognized because their belief is evident in their attitude and action. Mother knew that it is hope that helps us to rebound.
"To me it is very important that 'rejoicing in hope' is on the list of godlike characteristics, especially because we benefit so much from the comfort and happy expectation of hope in these tumultuous times." ("A Perfect Brightness of Hope," Ensign, Mar. 1992, 10)
Dallin H. Oaks
"The Apostle Paul described the followers of Christ as 'rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation.' (Rom. 12:12.) We are tested for those qualities in different ways at different times.
"A few weeks ago, some members of my family visited the Winter Quarters cemetery at Florence, Nebraska. There they saw Avard T. Fairbanks's marvelous statue of the pioneer parents looking down at the body of their baby, soon to be left in its grave at the side of the trail. Those pioneers received some of their toughest tests at graveside. Some modern pioneers receive their tests at bedside. One sister wrote:
'My mother cared for her mother until [Grandma] was ninety-eight. My dad now has Alzheimer's disease, and my mother patiently cares for him. ... The amazing part of this is the attitude of my mother. She always thought she would travel after she retired. She has always kept a beautiful home, loving to entertain others. She maintains her home as best she can, but has had to put aside many things that bring her joy. The amazing part is the joy my mother radiates. Her attitude is so beautiful. She finds real joy in the simple things of life. She is the pillar of strength to the whole family as she uplifts us all with her positive attitude.'
"There are hidden heroines and heroes among the Latter-day Saints-'those of the last wagon' whose fidelity to duty and devotion to righteousness go unnoticed by anyone except the One whose notice really matters." ("Modern Pioneers," Ensign, Nov. 1989, 65)
Romans 12:16 Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate
"...remember those who are in bondage, and in heaviness, and in deep affliction for your sakes. And if there are any among you who aspire after their own aggrandizement, and seek their own opulence, while their brethren are groaning in poverty, and are under sore trials and temptations, they cannot be benefited by the intercession of the Holy Spirit, which maketh intercession for us day and night with groanings that cannot be uttered.
"We ought at all times to be very careful that such highmindedness shall never have place in our hearts; but condescend to men of low estate, and with all long-suffering bear the infirmities of the weak." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 141.)
Romans 12:18 live peaceably with all men
Dallin H. Oaks
"The Savior and his Apostles had no program for world peace other than individual righteousness. They mounted no opposition to the rule of Rome or to the regime of its local tyrants. They preached individual righteousness and taught that the children of God should love their enemies (see Matt. 5:44) and 'live peaceably with all men' (Rom. 12:18).
"Recent history reminds us that people who continue to hate one another after a war will have another war, whereas the victor and vanquished who forgive one another will share peace and prosperity." ("World Peace," Ensign, May 1990, 72)
Romans 12:19 avenge not yourselves...for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay
George Albert Smith
"We have no hard feelings toward any of our fellowmen; we have no occasion to. If they misunderstand us, misquote us, and persecute us, we should remember they are in the hands of the Lord, who has said, 'Vengeance is mine: I will repay' (Romans 12:19), and who further has said, 'I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men' (D&C 64:10)." (The Teachings of George Albert Smith, edited by Robert McIntosh and Susan McIntosh [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 95.)
Dallin H. Oaks
"Revenge is never a proper motive for a Christian. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans: 'Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.' (Rom. 12:19.) The Book of Mormon has the same teaching: 'Man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay.' ("Morm. 8:20Morm. 8:20.)
"The prophet Moroni described the Nephites whom he led as 'thirst[ing] after blood and revenge continually.' They were 'without principle, and past feeling.' Seeing this, he said, 'I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them.' (Moro. 9:5, 20, 44)
"The desire to use civil legal action to punish a defendant rather than to obtain restitution for a plaintiff is a familiar motive, but it is unworthy of Latter-day Saints. If the motive is revenge, a Saint will not initiate litigation, nor will he force another person to initiate litigation against him." (The Lord's Way [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 181.)
Spencer W. Kimball
"In the midst of discordant sounds of hate, bitterness and revenge expressed so often today, the soft note of forgiveness comes as a healing balm. Not least is its effect on the forgiver.
"One of the glorious aspects of the principles of forgiveness is the purifying and ennobling effects its application has upon the personality and character of the forgiver. Someone wisely said, `He who has not forgiven a wrong or an injury has not yet tasted one of the sublime enjoyments of life. The human soul seldom rises to such heights of strength and nobility as when it removes all resentments and forgives errors and malice.'
"Retaliation certainly is not repentance, but the suffering of indignities, on the other hand, may be the way toward that goal. The Lord's matchless Sermon on the Mount provides for the better way, one without revenge or retaliation. And Paul said to the Romans: 'Recompense to no man evil for evil. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.' (Rom. 12:17, 19.)
"Spinoza expresses it this way:
'He who wishes to revenge injuries by reciprocal hatred will live in misery. But, he who endeavors to drive away hatred by means of love, fights with pleasure and confidence; he resists equally one or many men, and scarcely needs at all the help of fortune. Those whom he conquers yield joyfully, not from want of force, but increase thereof.'" (The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 266-267)
"There is a difference between the vengeance that belongeth to the Lord, and a man defending himself or [a] friend." (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 158.)
Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good
Milton R. Hunter
"How much wiser and happier the world would be if mankind would follow this truth given by Buddha: 'Conquer your foe by force and you increase his enmity; conquer by love and you reap no after sorrow.'" (The Gospel through the Ages [Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, Inc., 1945], 249.)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"Should we be surprised if we are called upon to endure a little criticism, to make some small sacrifice for our faith, when our forebears paid so great a price for theirs?
"Without contention, without argument, without offense, let us pursue a steady course, moving forward to build the kingdom of God. If there is trouble, let us face it calmly. Let us overcome evil with good. This is God's work. It will continue to strengthen over the earth, touching for good the lives of countless thousands whose hearts will respond to the message of truth. No power under heaven can stop it. 11667This is my faith and this is my testimony." (Conference Report, April 1970, First Day-Morning Meeting 23.)