Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality (Romans 12:9-13, ESV).
What defines us as Christians? I guess a more appropriate question to ask would be, “Who defines us as Christians?” Every day, we are all tempted to give over to our flesh and emotions, and we all give in to those temptations more than we would care to admit.
Thank God for grace and for the gift of repentance! This particular passage in Romans has been an encouraging and challenging reminder in my own personal life for quite some time. I am reminded of it from time to time as I engage others on my blog who strongly disagree with certain topics.
There are times I choose to engage in conversation, and there are times I choose to remain silent because not everything requires a response. I do not always get it right, and this is a humble reminder to continue growing in spiritual maturity and submitting to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
When faced with disagreement, it is a great opportunity to have God-honoring conversations while displaying gentleness and humility. All of these things partner together with understanding the Word of God so that we can honor the Lord in our conduct and remember who defines us as Christians.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 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.” 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.” Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:14-21, ESV).
Love Is a Priority
Romans 12:9 begins with love. It is an essential part of being a true disciple of Jesus Christ. It is not an emotional or conditional kind of love, and it is not based on sentiments. This kind of love identifies us as belonging to Christ in having no part in evil deeds and in loving one another.
It is interesting to recall the two commandments Jesus gave to His disciples: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.
When we read through these verses, we see an emphasis on others rather than on ourselves, and we ultimately see the importance of honoring the Lord in these ways because in doing so, we serve Him.
There will be times of celebration, times of endurance, and times of prayer. We are encouraged to pursue the Lord in every area, praising Him, trusting Him, and seeking His will while petitioning Him.
We are to look for ways to be hospitable to others, and we are reminded to conduct ourselves in such a way that we honor Jesus Christ, even among those who would mistreat us. This instruction is reiterated in verse 17 when we glean from this instruction to not repay evil for evil.
We see this also mentioned in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:39, 44. From this, we can see the importance of our conduct. We are not called to look like the world or to solve life’s challenges and hardships with retaliation or malicious behavior.
Even when faced with an individual wishing to commit evil acts against us, we are to act honorably toward that individual. Love is at the root of this, and we can see this love demonstrated in the command to meet their lack with provision and knowing that vengeance is left to God as well as judgment should they not repent and turn from their wicked ways.
Our focus is to honor God in our conduct and to testify of Jesus Christ. In a world where we want to do unto others as they have done to us, we remember Jesus’ words, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Disciples Follow His Ways
Reading through Romans 12:9-21, I am personally reminded of my role as a disciple of Jesus Christ and the necessity of His knowledge and His ways over my own. This helps me to remember my place in the relationship with Christ and as a disciple, His Word is to instruct me so that my conduct ultimately glorifies Him.
One of these humbling verses is to never be wise in our own sight. This verse sandwiched in the middle of these instructions is divinely inspired and a reminder to us that God’s instruction is not at the mercy of our understanding.
None of us know as much as we think we do. If we did, there would be no need for the Bible to provide us with instruction. His Word is so helpful to us, reminding us that we are to remain humble, to live peaceably with others if possible, and to consider the needs of others, knowing that God is sovereign and just.
Paul closes these thoughts with the same as he began in encouraging them concerning good and evil. This again goes back to our conduct as believers that is addressed continuously throughout these passages. We overcome evil with good.
We are not overcome with evil in the sense of compromising our conduct to that of evil and mirroring those actions. In all we do, we point to Jesus Christ. We serve the Lord in this way, and by following His instruction, we show ourselves to be true followers of Jesus Christ.
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Dawn Hill is a Christian blogger known as The Lovesick Scribe and the host of The Lovesick Scribe Podcast. She is passionate about sharing the truth and pointing others back to Jesus Christ through the written Word as the standard of authority for Christian living and instruction while being led by the Holy Spirit into maturity. She is the author of NonProphet Woke: The Reformation of a Modern-Day Disciple. She is a wife to Nicholas and a mother to Anabel and Ephraim. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.