The Happiness Project, that my daily bible reader would have me read Romans 12, my favorite chapter in the bible.
This book is right up my alley. I love to do lists, resolutions, and schedules. I can't help it. While serving as a self-help book, The Happiness Project analyzes how to increase happiness in your life. Gretchen Rubin, the author, writes about her experiences and how she dedicated a year to simply having more fun. She listed 12 resolutions, one for each month, and came up with realistic goals that would accomplish her resolutions. It takes 30 days to make a habit, and after thirty days with one resolution, she added on the next. The idea was that at the end of her journey, she would be more happy than she was when she started.
Here's the thing. I'm pretty happy, and really, I do this already! I decided to get more sleep, so I made it a habit. I decided to work out, I made it a habit. I wanted to drink coffee and play angry birds before the day started, so I made it a habit. (Okay, I read my bible, catch up on facebook and challenge opponents on words with friends too). All that to say, I am happy.
Back to Romans 12. Like I said, I don't think it's a coincidence that I read this chapter the same day that I started The Happiness Project. The first verse alone spoke to me loud and clear, differently than the thousands of other times I've read it in the past:
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him." Romans 12:1 (The Message)
Hmmm... so instead of a happiness project, it seems like I need to do a Romans 12 Project. Who knew Paul had it figured out way back then? I've broken down the chapter into 12 goals that I hope to add to my lifestyle.
Focus on God - "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. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. 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." Verse 2.
Give Thanks- "I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him." Verse 3.
Be Involved- "In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body..." Verses 4&5
Be a Child of God- "Let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't." Verse 6
Just Help- "If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; If you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate;" Verse 7
Keep a Smile- "If you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face." Verse 8
Love from the Center- "Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good." Verse 9
Others First- "Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle." Verse 10
Faithful in Prayer- "Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder." Verses 11&12
Be Hospitable- "Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality." Verse 13
Be a Friend- "Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down." Verse 15
Bless Enemies- "Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath... Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody. Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. 'I'll do the judging,' says God. 'I'll take care of it.' Our scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good." Verses 14, 16-21
The Romans 12 Project: Placing my everyday life before God as an offering.