Love one another with brotherly affection
(Proverbs 17:17) A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Brotherly affection involves concern for the well-being of another person. This includes spiritual, physical, emotional… Having brotherly affection involves being more involved than the typical acquaintance. (James 2:15-16) If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? God calls us into community and fellowship. Living the Christian life is more achievable when you are accountable to your community of faithful people. Showing concern for others well-being, especially those outside the faith makes the selfishness of sin fall away and the selflessness of love shine from your spirit filled heart.
2) Abhor what is evil, hold fast to what is good (Romans 12:9)
Abhor (regard with disgust and hatred) all evil, sin, darkness (anything not glorifying to God). Hold fast to God, the source of all good. True Christians are not perfect. The goal is not instant perfection at salvation, it’s sanctification (growing toward Holiness) as the Holy Spirit matures in our hearts. The goal is not to be without blemish, it’s to trust The Lamb of God who is without blemish. It is impossible to live a perfect life for even a day. We should seek to grow in God’s mercy which is renewed daily. We will fall short of the Holiness of God. We know we are growing when we are able to recognize our moments of failure, take that moment captive in Jesus, and grow from that lesson. Repeated recognition of our sin puts light into that darkness and matures our spirit. Only with the power of God through His spirit can we grow and reflect His light.
1) Let Love be Genuine (From Romans 12:9)
The only love that can make a difference in this world is genuine love. Genuine love meets the standard given to us in (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. Showing love that is not genuine misrepresents God. He is the source of absolute love, and it is our responsibility to show the light of that love to the lost of this dark world. Genuine love changes the life of both the recipient and source. The shallow/ human love causes hurt in its conditional state and creates despair and loneliness when it falls short compared to the Godly version. True Christians exhibit God’s true love, through the power of His spirit.
Many people are deceived into thinking that they are saved because they believe in Jesus. There is a difference in believing in Jesus and being saved because you accept Him as Lord to guide your life. How often do we see a professed Christian so full of anger and lacking forgivness that it pushes people away from getting to know Jesus? I fell the passage below shows us what the qualities of a genuine Christian look like. These are the qualities that draw the lost to Jesus. Many more people will find Jesus through our actions that reflect our heart than through words. I will break the passage into 12 characteristics to discover what each of these qualities can look like in us.
(Romans 12:9-21) 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. 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.
God uses people to guide your direction. We may be called to follow or to steer clear of them. Their actions are useful to God’s kingdom but displeasing to our self-guided nature. It’s one of the reason we are called to love others as ourselves. We may not understand why people do things as we take offense or become hurt by those actions, but our sovereign God know why. We can trust that He chose that person, that place, that time, and that relationship to bring change to our hearts and our direction. We are called to love God and to include all of the instruments (people) He uses to guide and mold us. See God’s purpose in people. (Romans 8:28) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Don’t let your self-guided nature hold grudges and become angry. In the love we are called to, those things don’t exist.
We often find ourselves trying to explain the message of God to people who are too consumed with the things of this world, like sin and emotion. Not to say that we don’t all fall prey to such times but our focus is meant to be on God. Living a life in the truth of God makes us feel compelled to pour out the word of God to those who are lost. We must seek to not only speak of God but to show Him in our actions and words. We must lose the expectation of seeing a heart change and a person find understanding. The only expectation we are meant to seek is that God is glorified through us. The understanding of the ways of God is only possible in the Holy Spirit. A changed heart allows the Spirit to dwell and grow fruit so that understanding and maturing can take place.
We should take heart that not even Jesus Himself could truly create understanding. His disciples didn’t have understanding of the power they possessed until Pentecost (indwelling of the Spirit). Even Jesus knew that He had to go so that the Spirit could instill truth into the hearts of believer where even the wisest of words fall short. (John 16:12-13a) I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth,…
Our love drives us to profess our God and His love. Our emotion and expectation cloud our purpose which isn’t conversion but glorification. Let the power of God in His Spirit grow fruit. Let God glorify Himself in the seeds we are called to plant. Be a reflection of God’s light and the work His Spirit has done in you. Let God be God and call to repentance those He chooses in the way He receives the greatest glory.
(Titus 3:3-5) For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit
We struggle with wondering if we are walking the path God has for us. We believe we are, but then an obstacle comes up and we wonder if this is a test of faith or a warning to change direction. Although I am sure God is leading me, I am constantly evaluating my environment and looking for ‘markers’ that indicate God desires me to make a change. The Holy Spirit guides us as God reveals His will to us in: prayer and through believers in our life. If we seek the Lord He will be found. God will lead us in His light for His glory.
There are many times we seek His face and His answers are withheld to keep us waiting for His timing. Or, our minds are so filled with our own desire we can’t hear His whisper. We stand on our path wondering if we are astray or just meant to pause. I had a thought that comforted me and I wanted to share.
God calls us to lead a life of righteousness. I feel that a life of righteousness, focused on Him, is the path He has for us. All of the earthly additions are not markers for us. Paying too much attention to the world will cause us to react in ways where God isn’t our focus. I believe that righteousness acts as a compass to God’s will for us. When the world creates obstacles, we are called to deal with them in righteousness and integrity befitting a child of God. He calls us to be the light and salt of the earth, even when things aren’t favorable. The way we react when things are difficult is more important than how we react to God’s blessings. Our difficult times act to draw people to our faith and hope in Him. If we continue to pursue righteous behavior in the midst of all of life’s circumstances we walk with Him.
I believe that sin is the marker that indicates we are leaving the light of His path. When we encounter sin or have to participate in sin to continue forward, that is when we have to stop and turn back. We know that God will not involve Himself in sinful behavior. He waits for sin to bury us and for us to seek Him and return to His light. That is where His grace and mercy make His light shine brighter.
We should not treat our walk with the Lord as an anxiety filled step-by-step analysis of His will or His favor. We seek to show God to others and glorify Him with a life of righteousness. This is the life He desires for us. He will give us the things He desires, it’s not for us to seek His every blessing. We are to live as a representation of a spirit filled with Him and a faith that His blessings will come in His time to glorify Him. When in doubt, glorify the Father!
Our faith identifies Jesus as the Christ, our Savior. He was also the Son of the Heavenly Father. Believers are identified as God’s children who are adopted into His promised inheritance of eternal life with Him. The triune God used this structure to give us a better understanding of Him in His infinitude. As we identify Jesus as the Son of the Father and we also are children of God, we can see Jesus as not only Lord, but a big brother. A big brother who showed us how to be instructed by and walk in submission to our Father. Our big brother was ‘first in inheritance’ and leads us by His example. We see how our Father leads our brother and we do our best to follow His example. God represented Himself in flesh through the Son. He showed us what a sinless nature guided by, and reliant upon, the Holy Spirit looks like. Jesus showed us what the power of the Holy Spirit looks like in a pure and sinless vessel. Jesus showed us how non-conformity to the ways of man can reverberate through time. He was God’s word made flesh and walked it out in completion, to perfection. Look to your big brother, first to overcome death and this world, and follow Him to the Father. He is the way and the truth and the life, forever.
(Hebrews 2:11) So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.
(John 14:6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 1:12) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
(Ephesians 1:5) he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will
I like to think of the bible like a diamond that is flawless, colorless and ideally cut. It is the most valuable word ever spoken. The diamond can be turned in the light and the way it reflects the light changes with each turn, but its beauty never fades. Sometimes the light is white and sometimes it is divided into colors, like the rainbow of God’s promise. The closer you look the more you can appreciate the details of its shape. Each time you see it you can truly appreciate its purity and splendor. The word of God is the same way. It grows with you as you mature, its wisdom becomes greater as you dive deeper.I marvel at the way the same passage can touch your heart in so many ways. I word that humbles you at one moment can bring you strength in the next. The bible is alive as if it was breathing alongside you. Breathing the Spirit of God into your heart. The word of God is as steadfast as He is. No matter how circumstances change, His word is always applicable as the truth! Seek Him in His word and you will find peace. Be led by His word and you will walk in joy. Believe in His word and you will be saved from your sin. Be changed by His word and you will be sanctified.
(Hebrews 4:12) For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me. – Martin Luther