“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality” (Romans 12:9-13 KJV)
The Bible is many things. It is a love letter to us from Jesus Himself. John 1:14 tells us that the Word was made flesh in the person of Jesus Christ and walked among us. The Bible is Jesus! But the Bible is also a how-to manual for the Christian walk. So often, we come upon a situation and wonder just how we are to handle it. When that happens, how often do we run to our Bible for the answer? Not often enough, I’m sure.
Romans 12 is one of those chapters in the Bible that lays out life lessons one by one. Beginning with, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”, and ending with “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good”, this chapter is full of information on how we are to live as children of God. This week, I’d like to take a look at just a few of these verses and just how they apply to our lives.
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). The guiding principle of the Christian walk is that we love one another as Jesus loved us. Just as He laid down His life for us, we are to lay down our lives for our friends, neighbors, family and even the strangers that God allows to cross our paths. So, how are we to do that? How do we show love to others? Our passage in Romans shows us just some of the ways that we can both love others and display the love of Christ in our lives.
Romans 12:9 tells us that love must be without dissimulation. What’s that you ask? Well, to dissimulate means to conceal under a false appearance, or to pretend. So first off, love must be real. Trust me, faking that you love others doesn’t work. We love others because we love God. We love others because God loves us. We love others through the power of love in our lives. Without God in our lives, it’s very hard to pour out love everywhere we go. So, first off, our love must be genuine. We need to have a genuine relationship with the God of the Universe. Then, we need to take all the love that He pours into our lives and pour it out on others.
As we love others, we need to “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9b). The devil is always walking around trying to pull us away from Christ and to draw us into the things of this world. We can’t let him. If we cleave, or cling, to Christ, we’ll be able to withstand the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:13). Part of loving others is showing them the way in which to walk as followers of Christ. If your life is dabbling in the world, you can’t show others Christ. Instead, fill your life with the goodness of a life lived in Christ and then use your life to show others Christ. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Romans 12:10). Loving others means putting their wants and needs ahead of your own. When we prefer others, we put their needs in the forefront of our lives. Christ gave up His life, that we might have eternal life. How much more should we give of our time, energy, and resources to show others Christ?
As children of God, we need to be “Not slothful in business” (Romans 12:11). We’re Christians wherever we go, even when we go to work or school. As you walk out the door in the morning, remember that you are taking Jesus with you wherever you go. This means two things, (1) don’t take Him anywhere you shouldn’t, and (2) do everything that you do in a way that will please Him! “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). As you go about your business, do everything as if you are doing it for the Lord. Let your relationship with Jesus shine in your work!
Living fervently in the Spirit as we serve the Lord (Romans 12:11) is a huge lesson! The word fervent means to have or show great intensity. As children of God, we are to live fervently, that is with great intensity, energy, and enthusiasm. Literally, we are to live with heat! The Bible is clear, Revelation 3:16 tells us that if we are living lukewarm lives, God will spit us out! When we really reflect on all that we are given as saved children of God, we can’t help but be excited! If you’re not excited about your life in Christ, or if you life has become “lukewarm”, sit down for a talk with Jesus. Confess that your life has become cold, and ask Him to remind you of all He has done for you. If you really ponder what He’s done and what He’s saved you from, you won’t be able to stay cold!
As God’s children, we rejoice every day because of the hope that is found within us. Our hope lies not in this world, not even in our families, but in Jesus Himself. That hope is the “anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19) that gives us the strength to be “patient in tribulation” (Romans 12:12). When troubles and problems come our way, we can be patient through them, because of our hope in Jesus. When the problems come, just stop and talk to Jesus. He has the answers and He will help you through. As His children, we are promised that He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and that He is holding us by the hand (Isaiah 41:10). Take heart, my friends, when troubles come. Jesus is always there. He will help you through.
Prayer is the cornerstone of our Christian lives, because it allows us to sit down and talk with our Saviour. Romans 12:12 tells us to be “instant in prayer”. Prayer doesn’t just happen when we go to bed at night, but instead prayer is a 24/7 activity. “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is not just an activity, but an attitude of the heart. To be able to pray at any instant means that our heart and lives are in tune with God. It means that no matter what we are doing, we are bringing Jesus along. Talk to Jesus throughout your day. Live your life as a conversation with Christ. He wants to hear from you and more importantly, He wants to answer you. Be “instant in prayer” and live expectantly as Jesus talks back!
As we bring this series of life lessons to a close, we come back to God’s commandment to love others as He loved us. God promises to provide for all of our needs (Philippians 4:19) and in the same way, we are to provide for the needs of others. “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality” (Romans 12:13) are characteristics of the disciple of Christ. Children of God are hospitable because they understand that all they have is from God and in turn it is His to give out to others. When children of God see or hear of a need, they do all they can to meet that need. “Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 4:18b). We are God’s hands and feet extended to this world and we need to live accordingly. Friends, God makes a need clear to us because He wants us to do something about it. Follow His leading as He makes the needs of your friends, family, and neighbors known to you. He’ll tell you how He wants you to help. Just listen.
Our passage is full of lessons on the life of a child of God. I hope this passage touched your heart as much as it touched mine. Remember all that God has given you. Then, walk in the light of His love and let that light shine in your life. You’re a King’s kid, my friend. Show off!