How Then Shall We Live?

 

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. [1] Romans 12:9-21

In light of what we, as Christians, know and believe—that Christ, the Son of God, died on the Cross to atone for our sins, that he was buried, and on the third day, rose from the grave and presented himself to a multitude of witnesses—all so that we might not perish, but have the opportunity to experience eternal life with our Creator— how then shall we live? 

In this passage that we find in the New Testament book of Romans, we hear the Apostle Paul tell us what living like a Christian looks like. I’ve heard it said that the Scriptures often act like a mirror, revealing what we really look like versus the image we have of ourselves. This can certainly be said of Paul’s message in this passage. The Apostle’s words here  can be convicting, as well as transforming.

Living righteously amidst a lost and fallen world has its challenges. On our spiritual journey, we encounter high highs and low lows. We try to do what is right while the world beckons us to do wrong. We look toward God, yet often our own hearts desire to betray us, seeking its own will for our lives.

But when we took on Christ, we left behind our old self. In Christ, Scripture says, we are a new creation, no longer tied to the old ways. We walk a new path, follow a new way. We look ahead to the future, leaving our past behind. We focus on living today, rather than worrying about tomorrow or wallowing in yesterday. We ingest God’s Word in our heart, storing it up for such a time that we may be called upon to use it, so that others might hear the truth that has been revealed and given to us, as a gift and a blessing. In Christ, we speak love and life, having left the bondages of sin and death behind.

Love underpins all that is new in our life. For we know, God is love. To love is to reflect God’s goodness and grace in our lives. To love means we shine God’s light into the lives of those around us, those we encounter along our journey to the Promised Land.

Living in love is different than living in death, for we know to live in sin is to live in death for the wages of sin indeed are death.

Paul encourages us—indeed exhorts us—to shine in love—to outdo one another in showing honor, being passionate in our love for the Lord as we serve Him. We are to take joy in hope, we are to be long-suffering during times of trouble, we must be faithful and continuous in prayer. We help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and we show hospitality to all.

Jesus promises that the people of the world will hate us for loving him because after all the world hated him too. Paul says we don’t respond in kind. We don’t answer hate with hate—but counter it with love. We are to bless them, not curse them. We celebrate when others celebrate; we grieve with those who grieve. We work to live at peace and in harmony with each other, avoiding high-mindedness, pride, and arrogance, ever seeking gentleness, and striving to be humble. We do not consider ourselves to be wise, but needy of God’s help at all times in all things. We do not repay those who harm us by doing them harm. We must take the higher road.

Whenever we can, we are to live peaceably with others—whether they be like-minded or not. We are not to avenge ourselves, but leave that to God, for he is God alone, and ultimately retribution is his to give. Paul paints a very different picture of what between our natural response versus our supernatural response—-what it is to respond in and of ourselves as opposed to responding in the power and strength of our Maker, our Father, our Creator.  He says we are to extend hospitality and kindness to our enemies. We are to show them goodness and practice self-control. Because at the end of the day, love wins out over evil. When we respond with love in the face of hatred, we defeat the evil present in this world.

Prayer:  Apart from You Father, I am not holy. Apart from Christ, I am not righteous. Apart from the Holy Spirit, I am not steadfast. In order to live in love I am dependent on God working in me. May His light shine through me for His glory. Amen and amen.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ro 12:9–21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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