This blog post is a slightly longer one, but I encourage you to pray, read and meditate on the scriptures, set some time apart to think through it, and respond with what God spoke to you through this text and how we might apply some of these things to our lives. I read this passage this morning. The more I allowed God to speak to me through it and the more I wrote in response to it, the more I realized that it is kind of piggy backing off of Pastor Drew’s sermon this past 1st chapel.
In Romans 12:9-21 Paul talks about the marks of a true Christian. He instructs the Romans in their conduct by saying this:
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,t serve the Lord.12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.t Never be wise in your own sight.17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Yes, I used a corny heart picture, and I'm a guy... but it's a nice picture.
If we desire to live lives that will glorify God, then we must have a love that is genuine. This passages helped me see that the context of unity/harmony is loving others no matter what their condition or your condition is. We are not to discriminate against another person’s condition: poor or rich, young or old, white or black, male or female. When someone’s condition is sorrow, we are to weep with them. When someone’s condition is joy we are to be joyful with them. That is what it means to be unified. Under God, we are all a family. Each and everyone of us, designed and created by God in his image with unique gifts, are tied together through a God who loves us. We are to be there for one another and lift each other up.
Furthermore, we must ask ourselves if others look at us and see that we have a hope that can’t be acquired from anything in this world. When others look at us do they see us complaining because of the difficulties we are facing or do they see patience that goes beyond a person’s natural tendency to just want to shut down, mope around, or get angry? Are we constantly in conversation with God? No one is perfect and we all could work on these things. If we begin to meditate on that verse 12 alone and start living it out, then we will begin to reflect Christ more and others around us will want to know what it is about us that is different.
What makes that difference is God’s love working in us. If God’s love wasn’t in us, then we wouldn’t be able to combat the sin that our flesh and human nature desire, love others, do good beyond what the world considers good (ie. love your enemies), and live passionately. God’s love calls us to live above reproach and “overcome evil with good.” It is when we experience God’s love for us and come to know and have a greater revelation of God’s love for us, that we will begin to hate what is evil because it pulls us away from that love. When we know God intimately, we know what good is because he reveals his heart to us. God alone can give us eyes to see as he sees. God loves every person abundantly, so we are to love all even when we have the right not to in the eyes of this world.
What is truly good only flows out of real love. What’s good and what is evil does not change so we must change and become more loving. Real love conducts real living.
God, I pray that we would let nothing keep us from receiving your love and sensing it daily. I pray that we would extend your love towards others even when we have the right not to. I ask that you would just grant us grace as we fight against our natural desires and work towards what is good through the power of your Spirit. Thank you for calling me out of my sin and freeing me from it. I love you God. In the name of your son Jesus, through whom all who believe have been set free, I pray that you would seal this in the heart, soul, mind, and spirit of every person who reads this, including myself. Amen.