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June 5, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where are you allowing status quo, convenience and your feelings to guide your connections with others?

Often the difficulty we have with Scripture is not due to a lack of comprehension but rather unwillingness on our part to put those truths into practice, especially when it comes to dealing with difficult people. For instance, take these passages found in Romans.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:9-13


They are straightforward and easy to understand. Yet, for all of their simplicity, we struggle to act upon what we know.  What makes applying these commands appear so daunting? Why are we met with such resistance? Quite simply, these actions of love, humility, generosity, and joy run counterculture to our human flesh. When someone pushes our buttons, all we want to do is push right back. And, if we don’t react we tend to avoid so we don’t have to deal with that individual. Relying on our own strength to accomplish loving that difficult person would be pure foolishness. True obedience is only possible when we rely on Christ’s heart to be reflected in us and allow the Holy Spirit to work through us.


We are confronted with this reality in verse 9 when the author reminds us that love must be sincere. There’s no such thing as “I can love him, but I don’t have to like him.” We must stop giving simple lip service to love. How can one say they believe in a loving God, but fail to show love to those around them? What message would we be sending to a lost world if we spoke of Christ’s love yet did not exhibit the one quality the defines our faith?  Love requires action.  The verses continues, “hate what is evil and cling to what is good”. Rather than rationalizing and justifying away the struggles that are present in our lives, we must come face to face with them. But, we can’t stop there. We must drop our sinful ways and cling to God’s grace as well as rejoice in the good He is producing within us.


At first glance, urging us to hate evil and cling to what is good appears to have no connection to the charge to love those difficult people in our world. We are left scratching our head wondering how confronting the sin in our own lives helps us exhibit love to those around us. It all boils down to a perspective shift.  Because we understand the depths to which we’ve been forgiven we are able to love others through humility, have hope and patience in the midst of any circumstance, and be generous with everything we’ve been given. When one believes they are loved freely by God, they are freed to love others, even “that guy.”


This is easier said than done. It’s as if the author knew our human tendency to become distracted and lose sight of Christ’s love. So, he reminds his audience in verse 11 to “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor.” When we become lazy in our spiritual life and disregard our integrity, we make ourselves vulnerable towards letting status quo, convenience and our feelings direct our actions as well as our relationships.


However, becoming sluggish in our pursuit of God has an even more damaging effect on the message we transmit to others. If we are not excited about grace and forgiveness, how can we ever expect those who we want to influence to be drawn towards the cross? Imagine the difference and impact we could have if this body of believers applied these five short verses to our everyday life. We can no longer speak about love. The time has come to answer the call to love extravagantly on Christ’s behalf.


This is my Prayer:  Father God help me to love boldly as You do.  Lord let Your heart be reflected in both my actions and my words.  Jesus may the hope that I have in You speak volumes to the people You put in my path. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

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