[reprinted from June 19, 2009]
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil. Cling to that which is good. Â In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate one to another; in honor preferring one another; Â not lagging in diligence; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; enduring in troubles; continuing steadfastly in prayer; contributing to the needs of the saints; given to hospitality. Â Bless those who persecute you; bless, and donâ€™t curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. Â Be of the same mind one toward another. Donâ€™t set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Donâ€™t be wise in your own conceits. Â Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men. Â If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. Â Donâ€™t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to Godâ€™s wrath. For it is written, â€œVengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore
â€œIf your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.â€
Donâ€™t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21 (WEB)
This has been a week in which I have been meditation on the whole of my life, considering what I am to be about and what I am not to be about! In this passage, Paul the great orator speaks his words firmly and yet so beautifully.
Love should be expressed truly whether to my husband or to a complete stranger. I am to always be real. When my heart is focused on Jesus then I will find myself able to express compassion to â€œeven the leastâ€ so naturally and sincerely.
The next verses roll off Paul’s pen like poetry. It almost seems to have a cadence to it. I wonder if Paul repeated this to himself throughout the day. Did he become saturated with the mind of Jesus so that these characteristics flowed from him? And now it is time for me to soak in these words. Read verses 9-13 again. If I speak those words every morning, commit them to my heart, I wonder how different my day might be?
And then Paul brings the big hammer and says I should BLESS â€“ truly speak blessings â€“ on those who hate me! This is a sincere blessing, not a sarcastic, said through gritted teeth blessing!
Instead of zooming through my life, I need to listen and be aware of the opportunities that God brings into my life. When there is a moment to rejoice â€“ savor it! When there is a time of sorrow â€“ do not ignore it! Both are essential to good health and a balanced life that acknowledges joy and sorrow in this God-given life.
Verses 16-19 speaks to my pride. Jesus was the most â€œrightâ€ person and yet He did not have to argue every point or win by the world’s way of thinking. He laid His hand down on the cross and asked the Father to forgive us for what we have done â€“ because we did not know. Even at that moment, Jesus was teaching and giving all that He had. Jesus chose to lay down His life. He shows me how to do that. He shows me that in the end â€“ just as Paul said â€“ vengeance â€“ even judgment â€“ will be the Father’s to execute. No matter what comes or who comes in my life â€“ it is for God to take care of the evil. Never do I lower myself to that level! Striking back at evil is only adding to its weight. Keeping my focus on what is good (Philippians 4:8) takes all the steam out of evil and leaves it lying in the dust.
Jesus said that I am a branch on His vine. (John 15) I allow my roots to sinker deeper into that which is Jesus â€“ a servant. My heart becomes a servant heart. My life gives glory to God.