Journal Ro 12 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world…
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.” Excerpts from Ro 12:1-13
Observation: Paul is good about finishing up his letters with some concrete, directional, advice of conduct. (It is not really “advice”, but instruction to comply with from the Holy Spirit)
Analysis: I noticed something today. All of the above scripture is about on the ground conduct; what each believer should be striving for, including the middle section of pursuing, AND APPLYING spiritual gifts that I didn’t reference (Ro 12:3-8).
But, looking at the above alone, these questions look for answers:
- What does a living sacrifice mean to my conduct?
o Notice that I didn’t say, “what does it “mean” to me?”
- What does not “conforming” to the world mean to my conduct? I guess I must ask myself where do I conform to the world and what do I need to do to change, not following my own reasoning, but following the Scriptures?
- What does “genuine” love look like vs. disingenuous or insincere love? And, more importantly, what are the actions of genuine love, especially in the local church?
- Abhor means (among other things) detest, loathe, despise. It is one thing to “abhor evil” that is in the world, but what about the evil (or sin) that is in me; what I see in the mirror? Do I recognize, define, and then abhor the evil within? Do I hold fast what is good, or do I let “good” slip through my grasp consistently?
- What is brotherly affection and showing honor? How do I excel (outdo) in doing that?
- Slothful is being lazy. Am I lazy in being zealous? Am I lazy in fervency?
- And don’t forget asking the face in the mirror about: rejoicing in the subject of hope; being patient when things aren’t going right (tribulation); constant prayer; looking for opportunities to serve folks in the local church with funds or service or something; showing hospitality (opening up the home or restaurant) with the saints.
I think it is very interesting that Paul is addressing believers to other believers, or, how to serve God in the local church. Does it mean not doing evangelistic things? Nope, but I think it does mean that there are needy people in the local church that need to be “ministered” to.
Could I stumble in trying to apply the above stuff? Sure, I could!! But, if I don’t start doing these things, in faith, not in fear, then I will never get good at it.
Lastly, this kind of stuff is what the writer of Hebrews alludes to in Heb 3:12-13, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the Living God. But EXHORT (or encourage, urge, push, insist, press) one another every day (as long as it is called today), that NONE of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
How can I lovingly care for my brother? Be persistent in pursuing all of the above, for sure. I keep the following in mind for myself and to share: Be honest, open, candid with honorable concern, merciful practice, and with fierce personal transparency.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for keeping this section of scripture in the forefront of my mind, that I may learn to put sweat equity in doing your word.
Ricky Two Shoes