I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2 ESV
Do you like to do paint-by-number or color-by-number pictures? I used to enjoy them when I was a kid, diligently working to make my finished project look like the one on the box. I still enjoy the relaxation that coloring in coloring books brings me. There’s no pressure to decide what I’m going to draw or color, I just fill in the lines. It helps relieve stress I might be carrying and gives me a sense of satisfaction to complete a picture. What I didn’t realize is that I sometimes try to live my life as if it were a picture to be colored or a paint-by-number to be filled in.
Life is not intended to be color-by-number! Romans 12:2 urges us to offer our bodies as sacrifices, not conforming to the pattern of the world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Patterns presented in the form of other people can be helpful guidelines, but God didn’t create me or you to be an exact pattern of another earthly person. Striving to duplicate the life of another only brings us stress and a sense of failure. If you and I don’t allow God to put His unique touch on us, the picture of our lives won’t turn out the way He intended.
Have you ever been to one of those painting places where everybody paints the same picture guided by an instructor? At the end of the class time no one’s painting looks the same although they all worked off of the same example. I believe the Christian life is meant to be similar to this. God has given us commandments to follow and examples in other faithful Christians who came before us, but God never intended for us to be those other Christians. God meant for us to look at the example that they set and how they point back to Him, helping us live and serve God and others better.
When we present ourselves to God day by day and ask for His guidance on how we can best serve Him we will find freedom in being who God created us to be. As we work and play alongside other Christians we will find how we complement each other and can encourage each other through our journey. Our differences can strengthen our relationships as we learn from each other and allow fellow believers to fill in spaces of our pictures where we are lacking color or shading. We will find our lives to be fuller and more satisfying, both to us and the Lord.
I encourage you today friends, don’t try to live your life as an exact duplicate of anyone else but Jesus! Look at who God has placed in your life as positive examples and ask Him how you might add some of what they have to your picture, and don’t be afraid to color outside the lines! Let the Lord show you where you are limiting yourself by trying to conform to a pattern He has not intended for you and push beyond those limits. Watch how your unique strengths and even weaknesses can be used to make you a beautiful picture, pleasing to the Lord and encouraging to others.
Go wild today and paint a beautiful picture!!