Christians are called to honorable behavior toward everyone. #honor
Romans 12:17 “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.”
What a tragedy when the world looks on a Christian life and sees nothing kind and generous and honorable toward them. It is extraordinarily sad when we hear the word “hypocrite” used from unbelievers to explain why they won’t go to church. These kinds of reactions are direct responses from those who have not seen grace and forgiveness and honor from the very people who should exemplify those things to everyone, not just to those within their Christian families. Paul has changed gears slightly beginning in this verse to address how Christians are to treat those outside of the faith. The world ought to look on believers and see something different, and that difference should be manifested in the way they treat others. Paul reminds us that we are called to different behavior than the world, behavior that does not retaliate or cheat or lie or speak unkindly or act dishonorably. The world should see Christ in us by the way we live, and they should see love in us in the way we treat them. Christians are to be holy, or set apart, in all ways, including the way we relate to others.
Study/Meditation: Explain the different ways a Christian is called to be “holy” in this world? How does that include the way we treat others?
*Father, give me a heart that reacts in grace and love toward all mankind. Help me display for the world a heart that is changed by Your mercy. Amen.
There are no economic or cultural distinctions for those who are in Christ. #humility
Romans 12:16 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited.”
Paul is not speaking of living in harmony the way we often think of it, to get along well with one another. Paul is speaking to the harmony of oneness, living together with no distinctions based on social, economic or cultural standards. That is why he continues this thought with statements on pride and humility. Basically he is reminding us of how we must treat each other with this new and transformed mind that is Christ-centered instead of self-centered. The Christ-centered mind does not see itself in terms of human distinctions because it is fully devoted to Jesus. Therefore, favoritism and arrogance are replaced with compassion and servitude. Christians never consider a task too low for them or beneath them when they are serving the kingdom. On the contrary, our task is as Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant that yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Study/Meditation: How is Jesus our supreme example in living this way? (Read Philippians 2:5-8)
*Father, help me see the times when I am less than humble and give me opportunities to serve as one who is fully devoted to You. Amen.
Real #love requires vulnerability.
Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
In a world full of imperfect people who do imperfect things, it is often easier to become stoic and ambivalent towards others. In this way we can protect our own hearts and feelings, shielding ourselves from the pain of betrayal and wrong doing. However, a Christian heart is one who does not seek self-protection above ministering to others. As a matter of fact, a Christian heart is one that has been so transformed by the love of God that it feels right along with the hearts of its fellow brothers and sisters. Paul tells us that when one of our family rejoices, we should be rejoicing right along with them; when they are sad, our hearts should break along with theirs. This truly requires us to be vulnerable to possible hurts ourselves, but in this vulnerability is also self-denial, and this is the kind of heart that has been changed by God. Paul is not telling us to go out and become professional mourners or manufactured laughers. What he is telling us is to become so consumed with our Father and His love that our hearts are transformed into ones that really feel empathetic love for each another. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Study/Meditation: Read John 13:34. Jesus made love a commandment. Why do you think He did so? Why is this so important?
*Father, thank You for loving me so completely. Help me as I meditate on Your love to be pleasing to You in my love for others. Amen.
In all things and in all ways, point others to Christ. #prayer
Romans 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”
When we are wronged and choose not to retaliate against the person or persons who wronged us, we can often walk away from that situation feeling fairly good about ourselves. After all, the world would tell us to get revenge and make the other person(s) suffer. However, Christians have been called to a more radical transformation than that. In this verse, Paul is simply restating something Jesus said in Luke 6:28, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” As God’s children, we are to seek to become so God-centered and so God-exalting that our only concern is that His glory be manifested and known throughout the world. It is a “renewing of the mind,” as Paul stated in Romans 12:3, and this renewal sees past the offense to the mission. The response is that instead of cursing him or ignoring her, we only pray for them. In so doing, we are presenting ourselves as a “living sacrifice” to God, making all that we are and all that we do about worshipping Him. (Romans 12:2) Self is no longer the main thing. God is the main thing, and whatever is done to us must be about advancing Him, not ministering to self.
Study/Meditation: The mandate given by Paul in Romans 12:14 is expounded on by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 5:38-48. What specifically does Jesus say about how we are to treat those who mistreat us?
*Father, give me a heart that sees past the wrongs committed against me so that I may instead pray for and bless those who do so. Let my response be a light that leads to You. Amen.
We seek to be generous because God was first generous to us. #giving
Romans 12:13 “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
It seems rather interesting that in the middle of Paul’s exhortations on personal spiritual disciplines that he insert one about contributing and showing hospitality. Why? The answer lays in what we are to do and the reasons why we should be eager to do so. The word Paul uses that has been translated as “contribute” is actually a word more closely related to the word “fellowship” or “sharing.” He is speaking of fellowship between Christians, or sharing with one another that are in need. He follows that up with telling us that in order to do so, we should seek to be hospitable to one another—asking each other to have a meal, giving of our time and finances, or being kind to each other in church and in the community. This hospitality also includes the way we treat those outside of the church. Our generosity should likewise extend to those we wish to bring into fellowship. Why are these activities placed in the middle of reminders about our responses to God’s love and mercy? We seek to be kind and generous to others because that’s exactly what God did for us. We were strangers and aliens, but God graciously brought us into His family by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:15-21) We seek to treat one another as we were first treated by our Father.
Study/Meditation: In what ways can you deliberately “contribute to the saints and seek to show hospitality” this week?
*Father, give me a heart for others that would show kindness and hospitality. Reveal to me those opportunities so that I may live as a thankful member of Your family. Amen.
Christians know they need God because they know Him. #prayer
Romans 12:12c “…be constant in prayer.”
In this rather long list of directives in Romans 12, Paul has anchored them on the first verse of the chapter, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God…” We cannot love or serve or lead or give or exhort or show honor or any of the other things Paul lists without the mercies of God, but even further than that, we cannot recognize that we need God’s mercies unless we first know Him. How do we do that? We talk with Him, and we do so in a “constant” or “devoted” manner. We do not know our spouses or our best friends or our family by speaking with them only occasionally. We know them because we spend time with them. We have relationship with them because we speak with them and enjoy their company more than just before mealtime or when we need something. In order for us to be able to walk in God’s mercies and His grace so that we can behave as His children, we must first recognize that we need His mercy and His grace. The world needs Him; they just don’t know they need Him. We, His children, know we need His mercy because we know Him, and we know Him by living lives that are constant in prayer.
Study/Meditation: How does Paul elaborate on how and why we need prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23?
*Father, thank You for giving me this avenue in order to know You more. You are my Abba Father, and I love You. Amen.