A BETTER WAY
Father, today with the help of the Holy Spirit, may I pray sincerely and praise you joyfully.
Read ROMANS 12:9-21
Love in Action
9 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.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 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,”[b] says the Lord. 20 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.”[c]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘… love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’1 Pray now for any individuals who you find difficult to love.
We know that love is at the center of our faith in Jesus – love is the ‘most excellent way’2 – but here Paul brings fresh challenge to believers living in the diverse Roman church. Love is to be ‘sincere’ (v 9). Living alongside Christians of different traditions, backgrounds, and social status brings subtle temptations. Do we truly honor others above ourselves in our own church (v 10)?
Echoing Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount, Paul’s words exhort us to blessing, not cursing; to being humble-hearted, not proud; to being empathic and compassionate towards others; to building harmony, not stoking conflict. We are to live joyfully, hopefully, patiently, and prayerfully (v 12)3 and to welcome others into our lives with generosity (v 13). Take time to allow these words to question your life over the past day or so. In the light of these verses, is our own loving in the challenging situations we face always ‘sincere’ (v 9)? Paul’s words about ‘spiritual fervor’ (v 11) prompt a recentering on the goal of ‘serving the Lord’. Sometimes, caught up in our own busy enthusiasms, our primary focus may not be about serving God or loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Might it be that sometimes this exhortation to love is not so easy?4 Perhaps we sometimes even feel that it’s not right to ‘turn … the other cheek’? Counterintuitively, Paul holds up for us the person who has wronged us (vs 19–21) and shows us another way to respond. The radical loving that he suggests (vs 20,21), points to the sovereign God in whom we place our trust (v 19). And, who knows? In our loving, faithful obedience to him, the heart of our enemy might be turned towards God.
Does this description of love-in-action challenge any aspects of your daily living? Confess to God now and ask him to help you ‘overcome evil with good’ (v 21).
Heavenly Father, I need to put on “the belt of truth” (Ephesians 6:14) daily. I pray that what I project to others will be a true reflection of who I am in You.
1 John 13:34 2 1 Cor 12:31 3 Cf Gal 5:22–26 4 Matt 5:38–48
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