Wednesday (3/25/20) - Lord God, by your Word fill me with a spirit of love and servanthood
Romans 12:9-21 - 9Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 14Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! 17Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. 19Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. 20Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” 21Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
We are pretty skilled at pretending. We pretend that life is good and that we have it all together. We pretend to be happy or satisfied. And we pretend we love others all the time. If there is one concept that we have to come to grips with about Christianity it’s that God is more concerned about our heart than our appearances. In Romans 12 Paul is giving the church a list of characteristics that should describe every Christian. Every one of those characteristics can be traced back to a heart of love.
If we love people, we will hate evil and cling to good. If we love people we will honor and serve them. We won’t be focused on getting even or chasing revenge but will instead look for ways to serve others even when they hurt us. We will live in harmony and help those who need our help.
That is not an easy thing to do. We have all been hurt at some point in our life. We have all struggled with the desire to even the score with someone. But Paul makes it very clear that this mindset is unacceptable for us as Christians. In our desire to look like a good Christian, we often put on the fake smile and pretend that we are not hurting and angry. Many of us have learned how to tolerate those who have hurt us but not even that reaches the goal that we are given. We are to really love each other with genuine affection.
That might seem like an impossible task for us – how can I genuinely love those who are unlovable? For me, I have to constantly remind myself that often times, I am the unlovable one. I have hurt so many people over the course of my life, intentionally and unintentionally. I have failed my family and my friends and I have certainly failed my God. And yet, Christ still went to the cross to die for me because of his love. We read in our passage yesterday that if we want to be true followers of Christ – if we want to love Christ – we have to keep his commands. Do you remember what Jesus said when he was asked what the greatest commandment was? He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind…and love your neighbor as yourself.” I think that is a pretty clear expectation on us to genuinely love others.
That is why we can’t just pretend any longer. As we love those around us, we express our love for God. If our love for others is not genuine then just how genuine is our love for Christ? Take some time today to evaluate your love for others. Are you just putting on a show and pretending or is your love real?