Sunday, December 18, 2016, 2:48 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When in the Stillness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 12:3-21 (ESV).
Practice Humility (vv. 3-8)
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
So, what does it mean to think with sober judgment about oneself? It means to be clearheaded, serious, and thoughtful in the assessment of oneself. It is the opposite of prideful, puffed up, and telling oneself lies, and believing those lies. It is honest, as opposed to dishonest. It is open and transparent, as opposed to covering up sin and wearing a mask or faking genuineness. So, to think more highly than we ought to think about ourselves would be to think unrealistically, and to give ourselves more credit than we deserve, or to fabricate our own persona in order to fool others into thinking we are better than we really are. Also, it can be to take credit for things God has done in our lives, as though we have accomplished those in our own merit.
It, too, can be to raise ourselves up above others based on intellect, race, looks, social status, income, education, talent and even spiritual gifts. Yet, it is God who created us. We had nothing to do with that. He gave us our looks, our skin color, our intellect and our natural abilities, even the ability to make money or to live in more humble circumstances. And, he provides opportunities for us and places us in the families in which we were raised. And, for those of us who are Christians, we are only saved because of God’s grace to us. As well, he gives us the faith to believe in him. Yes, we have to appropriate that faith to our lives, and we have to take the steps he tells us we must take, but it all comes from him, and it is all accomplished in his power and strength. So, we can’t even take credit for our spiritual walks or the spiritual gifts he gives each one of us. It is all because of God’s grace!
Love One Another (vv. 9-13)
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.
So, what is genuine love? To be genuine means to be honest, sincere, unpretentious and not hypocritical. And, what is love? In the original Greek language, the word was agape, which means: “properly, love which centers in moral preference… In the NT, 26 (agápē) typically refers to divine love (= what God prefers)” – http://biblehub.com/greek/26.htm. So, genuine love is honest and not hypocritical, and it is moral, as opposed to immoral, and it prefers what God prefers. As well, it abhors (hates, detests) evil, and it clings (or holds fast) to what is good (moral, righteous, and decent).
The problem with this kind of love today is that if you love others like this, then you are likely to be accused of bigotry, hatred, division, and judgmentalism. What the world, including many who call themselves Christians, often refer to as “love” is really utter selfishness. They won’t love others like Christ loves us, because it will mean that people won’t like them, and will reject them. So, they lie to people, and give false compliments, and they refuse to tell people the truth about sin and what God prefers, because it isn’t what sinful humans prefer, and it will offend people. And, they don’t want to offend anyone, because, again, they want people to like them more than they want people to love Jesus and to truly love their fellow humans.
As well, many people will not love like this, well, because they don’t know the ONE who IS LOVE. So, it is not in their nature to love like this. But, the sad reality is that there are so many people who claim to be Christians, and followers of Christ, who do not love others with this kind of love, but they “love” as the world does, which is the opposite of agape love. And, they do so because they are selfish, and they are thinking of themselves and what they want rather than about what is in the best interest of others. Genuine love does no harm to its neighbor, but fleshly “love” is not so concerned about whether or not someone gets hurt, but it is rather focused on self: self-pleasure, self-protection and self-gratification, even at the cost of all other relationships, including spouses, children, and church family, etc.
So, if you love others with genuine (agape) love, and you get mistreated and falsely accused in return, take courage. Keep serving the Lord Jesus with all spiritual fervor, and never, ever give up! Be patient in affliction, and keep praying and believing God for changed hearts and lives. And, keep loving!
Love Your Enemies (vv. 14-21)
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.
When we love others like Christ Jesus loved (loves) us, we will be hated and persecuted just like he was. Why did they hate him? They hated him because he told them the truth about their sin, and because he didn’t join in with them in following their man-made religion, and because people’s hearts and lives were being transformed of the Spirit of God, through his ministry, and they (the religious leaders) saw this as a threat to their own positions of power and rule over the people. Yet, they also hated him because he claimed to be who he was – God, their Savior, their Lord, and their Messiah, whom God the Father had promised them. And, so they killed him.
Yet, we are to love those who hate us, and who mistreat us, and we are to hope the best for them, which is faith in Jesus Christ and freedom from sin. And, we are to speak the truth in love to them, and not tell them lies to make them feel good about themselves in their sin. As well, we should work to show them the love of Christ by helping to meet their legitimate needs. And, we should hurt with them when they hurt, and we should rejoice with them in their joys, as long as those things don’t conflict with God and with his Word (his teachings). Also, we should not make them our closest associations, lest we should be dragged down with them into the dirt. Instead, we are to be overcomers of evil, by faith in Jesus Christ.
Yet, we are not to try to get even or to make them pay for their sin, but our goal should be to bring them to a place where they are turned from darkness (sin) to light (righteousness) and from the power of Satan (he has had over their lives) to God, to live and to walk in his holiness, according to his Spirit, so they can be forgiven their sins, and be sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Ac. 26:16-18). And, we should work towards peace and harmony, as long as those don’t mean compromise of our Christian faith.
When in The Stillness / An Original Work / September 26, 2011
When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.
While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.
Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.