Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12:14-21

As I reflect on this passage I am reminded that possibly the greatest deterrent to people coming to know Christ as their Savior is the behavior of those who call themselves Christians.  Let’s face it, sometimes it is really hard to be like Christ in the face of all the sin and injustice in our world. Sometimes it would be nice to have a little bit of justice this side of heaven – or so it would seem. And while we all understand that Christians are far from perfect, there does seem to be a higher expectation on those who profess Christ than on those who don’t.  

I think Paul is reminding us of our responsibility to represent Christ in this world and is reminding us of the essential of surrender.  Paul is testifying to the characteristics of a surrendered soul in ministering Jesus to a lost and dying world. Notice that our behavior doesn’t look like the flesh. Instead, our actions and attitudes look more like Christ. Such activity can only be derived by one’s surrender.  This is the manifestation of Christ in you living through you to ministry Jesus to those who do not know Him.  And once again, it all goes back to Romans 12:1-2 – because of the mercy and grace of God experienced in salvation, a believer is compelled to offer his body to God as a living sacrifice so that he might know and experience God’s will. This requires that a believer not conform to the patterns of this world, but instead, that he allows God’s Word, will, and Spirit to transform and sculpt his life for His good pleasure. Before this can occur, a person must recognize the truth of his personhood in light of the majesty of God which affords a fantastic collision of our surrender and humility which generates the love of God both within and outside the church. 

facebooktwitter

Compelled by His Love

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

Loving god

Loving god

When I read this passage in light of the previous few verses that includes spiritual gifts, it reminded me of Paul’s words to the believers in Corinth (see 1 Corinthians 13). Paul concludes – it is wonderful and amazing that God has given every believer a spiritual gift to accompany His Divine calling, but if our primary motivation is not the love of God, then we have missed the point (for the love of Christ compels us2 Corinthians 5:14). This means that it is Christ in us living through us as evidence by the agape love of God which supersedes everything. If we are not genuinely moved by the love of God, then we are a just a clanging cowbell that the world is either annoyed by or never hears. It is His love in me shining through me that matters most. This does not mean that our gifting and calling are not important – they are. Instead, it means there is a higher calling of surrender and intimacy with God that manifests itself in the expression of His love through our lives that ultimately defines the quality and vitality of our faith and His grace. Let me say it in another way. While our gifting and calling might have influence upon another person’s life; it is the love of God in me living through me that will have the greater impact on others for the cause of Christ. It is His love in me and not my gift that makes the difference.

facebooktwitter

Thinking of Self Correctly

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:3-8

Think Right

Think Right

In Romans 12:3-8, we discover that God has granted every believer the wonderful blessing of participating in something greater and more important than himself – the body of Christ. God has even provided special gifts to make us inter-dependent upon one another and together dependent upon Him – that we may spur one another along toward love and Great Commission acts of service. To participate in such a grand community of faith requires two items – a willingness to be engaged in the life of the faith community and an accurate perspective of who we are.

In verse 3, Paul gently reminds us to neither think too highly or too lowly of our selves – but to think accurately of ourselves. This is true humility. Humility is never conceited, and yet it can have confidence. Humility is never arrogant, and yet, it most certainly can possess competence. So to rightly understand who we are (and whose we are) can breed us the ability to be steadfast, immoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord with great faithfulness while never allowing our God-given talents and abilities to get the big-head thinking it is all about us. As one surrendered on the altar of God as a living sacrifice (see Romans 12:1-2), it is only reasonable to embrace that my life is not just for God’s purposes, but also for God’s people. And yet, so long as I have an inaccurate view (not God’s view) of my life – thinking either too much or too little of myself – I will find that I will not serve others thinking I’m too good for such a role,  or I will never allow others to serve me thinking I am not good enough to be served.

So take a step back and take in a deep spiritual breath this day to consider that no matter who you are, what you have or have not achieved, whether you think you are good or bad – you are nothing more and nothing less than a person in desperate need of the grace and favor of God.  Your worth is not found in anything other than the amazing grace of God – all else is folly.  And suppose that along life’s journey you have discovered and embraced His grace, then consider that He has now called you to be His hands, His feet, and His voice to others as you seek first His kingdom and righteousness. You are not your own.

facebooktwitter