This last post has been a long time coming because God has really be impressing it on my heart and soul. For me (and maybe you) this part is where the rubber meets the road in our walk with Christ.
But before I begin I'll let you know the verse that started it all: Romans 12:10 "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Actually it was that last part "outdo one another in showing honor". Well I have to admit I for one have not been good at doing that!
In the context of this chapter, Paul is speaking to his "brothers". This is the church he is speaking to; he is saying "offering your bodies as a living sacrifice to God" - God first; "don't think of yourself more highly then you ought" - yourself last; and now put others before yourself, "outdo on another in showing honor".
Life within the "body of Christ" can be hard. People not being perfect, and sometimes living in the flesh, do things that hurt you or others. It's a product of this sinful world we live in. I'm not excusing the behavior, just acknowledging why it happens. I (you) have been hurt by someone in the church, or I (you) have hurt someone in the church. This portion of scripture tells us how to move past the hurt, and towards a fuller, more intimate relationship with Christ. Let's take a look at Romans 12:9-21, and list what it says we are to do:
- Love genuinely (the NAS version of the bible says "let love be without Hypocrisy ~ Ouch) Can I ask you a personal question? Have you ever loved with hypocrisy? I have and that one hurt!!! Fake! I always say I know when someone is being fake and I hate it. How often have I been fake??? Ugh!
- Abhor what is evil (Abhor means to "have a horror of ~ how often are you in horror of any particular sin, either in your life or others? Are you horrified by gossip? We're all horrified of the BIG sins, but what about "all" evil, which includes our "little" sins.)
- Cling to what is good (To cling means to glue together, cement, to join. You should be permanently attached to the good around you.)
- Love one another with "brotherly" love (I find it interesting that Paul mentions love twice here don't you?) (This is a love you should have for a brother or sister, familial love, ~ one that sacrifices for the good of the other. There's that word again "sacrifice".
- Outdo one another is showing honor! Oh that verse! Go out of your way to show preference to someone else! Does it say those that do good to you? No, it says one another. Could that include someone who has hurt you? I think we'll find out in a little bit.
- Here Paul gives a short list of other to do's and when I hear these I think of those verses in Colossians 3:17, 23. Do them unto the Lord:
- Do not be slothful in your Zeal. In other words: Don't be lazy! Be passionate for Christ!
- Be fervent in spirit. In other words: Be on fire in the spirit!
- Serving the Lord.
- Rejoice in hope.
- Be patient in tribulation ~ Boy that's a doosy isn't it?! I'm not often the most patient person around, especially when there is a trial. I want it done, and yesterday!!
- Be CONSTANT in prayer. "CONSTANT" I love the definition of "constant", but here is one part that I will pull out ~ to persevere and not to faint. How often do we give up in prayer when a situation is not handled as timely as we think it should be? (Please see "Be patient in tribulation").
- Contribute to the needs of the saints. We are the "saints"! Remember we are set apart, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5). The definition of "contribute" means to:
- to come into communion or fellowship with, to become a sharer, be made a partner
- to enter into fellowship, join one's self to an associate, make one's self a sharer or partner
- Show Hospitality (The definition of show includes: pursue, press on towards) This means even though it may not be easy for you to do hospitality, it is still required. God gives to us what we lack. I for one have a hard time practicing hospitality, but I now know God calls me to it, especially to my brothers & sisters in Christ.
Now we come to verses Romans 12:14-21. I believe we are still talking about the church here, and look at Paul's words. How does he start off? "Bless those who persecute you". Whoa, wait one minute here, I am suppose to bless those who persecute me? What?! Bless and do not curse?! Really?! Yes really, look also at what is said in Matthew 5: 43-44, and Luke 6:27-28, and in 1 peter 3:9, it addresses the same as in verse Romans 12:17.
This is right where God has had me for awhile now. One thing I am good at is avoiding people who have hurt me. I think this is a family trait, avoidance. Well God will no longer have any of that with me. He has said "enough Kim, let's get on with obedience!" He has also brought to my mind the fact that when I say I've forgiven, I really haven't. YIKES!! (Do you see where that loving without hypocrisy hit pretty close to home?!) Over and over again He is showing me where I need to be genuine in my love, where I need to put others before myself, where I need to let go of the past, and let him handle it. WOW! What freedom is in that!! Someone actually told me lately that my countenance had changed. She could see more joy in me. Why? Because I am learning to truly forgive and not to harbor feelings that will only keep me in bondage! Hallelujah he came to set me free (Isaiah 61:1 and Galatians 5:1)!!
So what about you?
1. Do you find it easy to love others? How about those who have hurt you?
2. How do you see the part of verse 10 "outdo" each other in showing honor? What does that mean to you?
3. Forgiveness is hard in our humanness, but necessary and possible with the Holy Spirits help. We leave it to God to handle the sin. What do you need to forgive and receive freedom from?
Oh I so hope this has been a blessing to you, and something that spurs you to a closer more intimate relationship with Christ!! If I don't blog before I so hope you have a blessed Christmas! Remembering HE came to set your free!!