Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit
We are asked not to be lazy in our devotion to God’s kingdom. We should be devoted to a life lead by the Holy Spirit. It’s human nature to get caught up in the things of this world, the things we can see and feel with no effort. Focusing on our devotion to, and the way of the spirit, requires not only faith but real effort. We have to spend time in prayer in order to hear the voice of God as He whispers into our heart. We must spend time in God’s word to increase our knowledge and discernment of God’s will. We must not fall prey to the things of this world. We must realize that we are citizens of a perfect kingdom sojourning on earth as children of God. Our eyes must be continually on the Father. Don’t put off any moment to be with the Lord. He wants your heart, all of it, all of the time.
Outdo one another in showing honor/give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all
Honor speaks to admiration for what is good, valuable, or important. Attempting to ‘outdo’ one another shows the importance of improvement in this quality. We must continue to always keep our eyes toward what is good, valuable, and important. What encompasses these qualities better than the most important and valuable relationship we have with the source of all good? We must keep our eyes on the things of this world that glorify God and advance His kingdom. We must find joy in the admiration of His work in us and through us. This show of honor toward things that exceed the fallen nature of this world will draw the lost to God’s light. God’s way is honorable in the sight of every person, sinfulness blinds them to His truth. Our goal has to be to show them what honoring God looks like in real world application. Only then will the value of God’s presence be understood.
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 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!
Why do we feel the need to hide who God made us to be? Each one of us adds so much value in our unique ways. If you think about it, even evil people come into our lives and leave us with valuable lessons. Those lessons may be personal, or ours to share when others struggle. The value of each person is found in your ability to see their beautiful gifts. You might see a gift that they aren’t even aware of, or a gift they are trying to hide but it fights its way out in their weakness. God brings all kinds of people into our lives. Some people are there to guide us toward a path, some to push us away from the wrong path. Some people are there to influence us positively so that we can grow, some to show us qualities we are meant to avoid. Some people will love us, some will pretend to love us, some will reject us, and some will try to cause us harm. The beauty is that they are all part of a plan much bigger than the small moments that we have to interact with them. Even years of love or pain are a blink in the eye of eternity. Let all people be a source of sanctification. Let all people draw you toward your Godly purpose. Let all people give you the chance to show love and to be God’s light. Be an example as you rise above the world that reacts in selfish haste. Be the reaction that God put in you to be. Brighten the world around you. Let God set your coarse and don’t allow the people of the world to draw you away. Let the hard times mold you to be stronger and the beautiful times fuel your spirit.