"Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all!"
~Romans 12: 9-16
This is where the rubber meets the road ~ putting action to what we think and believe. And I am bracing myself for today's meditation, because I know how short I fall. I cannot begin to count the number of scenarios that parade through my mind ~ times when I failed to step up and show love to someone who was in need of a hearty dose. I can't shake the memories of times when my responses were anything but loving, completely void of sincerity. And how often have I lashed out in anger, or completely pulled away? Too many times to count.
The good news is I am forgiven of those past mistakes. And my actions today ~ and tomorrow ~ don't have to follow those nasty patterns I long to break. So I roll up my sleeves, take a deep breath, and delve into my instructions in this passage of Scripture.
Love sincerely. Don't just pretend to love others. That's a tall order, especially if it is someone I find difficult to like, let alone love. But for God, this is a piece of cake. He loves ALL of us. He doesn't show favoritism. If I open myself up and cooperate, his love can flow through me onto the people he puts in my path ~ even the ones I find challenging to love.
Despise the things in this world that are wrong, and cling to those that are good. I notice it refers to "things", not people. God hates the sin, but he ALWAYS loves the sinner. I am called to respond in the same way. This means I need to keep a clean slate before God and steer away from things I know are wrong. Sometimes I need to simply walk away.
Honor others. Let them go first. Place them in the seat of honor. Lift them up. Encourage and celebrate them when they are in the limelight. Be content to be on the sidelines offering my support. Learn to put others before myself.
Overcome my tendency towards laziness ~ step up and do my part. Work with an enthusiastic spirit and willing hands. Look for opportunities to serve. Remember, when I am serving someone, God says it's as if I am serving him. Powerful stuff!
Remain hopeful. As long as I have hope, my joy can remain intact. No circumstance or person can take it away. Walk through trials patiently. Impatience won't get me through the rough seasons any quicker. In fact, the opposite may be true. Keep praying ~ NO MATTER WHAT. Maintaining an ongoing communication with God is critical if I want to see any growth.
Have an open hand and hearth. Be willing, even eager, to share with others the blessings I have been given. Things cannot hold a candle to people. Live this truth in my daily round by being extravagantly generous. And stop waiting until my home is "good enough" for guests! A home full of love is far better than one full of expensive gadgets and trendy designs.
Bless those who persecute me. Ugh. These are the people who look down on me because of my faith. In my head, I understand that they don't see what I see, and they can't relate to my walk with God. But still, it hurts. And when I hurt, my tendency is to pull away or lash out. Neither is a healthy option. How good it feels to respond in love, and to lift them up in prayer.
Celebrate other people's victories, and cry with them during their losses. Empathy ~ what a wonderful quality. You can see it clearly on someone's face whose heart is full of it. Your pain and your joy are mirrored back to you by their own countenance.
Live in harmony with others. To do this consistently, I think you have to be a peacemaker. A peacemaker isn't consumed with being right ~ he is more concerned about having a right relationship with others.
Swallow my pride, and learn to relate to people in all walks of life. It's easy for me to gravitate toward those who are most like me. This challenges me to be open and look for the best in all people ~ embrace them instead of avoiding them.
Put to rest any and all thoughts that I am better than another person. The One who created all of us says otherwise. How silly we are to compare ourselves with others and pass judgment on them. We cannot look clearly into anyone's heart to see what's there. We can't even get an accurate glimpse into our own! Only God has that ability and privilege.
Honestly, I am overwhelmed by today's message. The moments I live this way are few and far between. But how wonderful it is that I have a new day to walk through, and a new chance to get it right.
"I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts."
"Well done is better than well said."
"Ironically, making a statement with words is the least effective method."
"People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do."