I was reading Romans 12 the other day. As I read I started thinking about what the church would actually look like if we lived these things out. It goes back to the whole idea of authentic community, and how things would look if we were willing to live that way.
But, that wasn't where I stayed. I started thinking about my own life. Romans 12:9-21 contains some practical guidelines for living. As I started to think through each one, I started to realize that I have a long way to go in this area of being able to live and function in the kind of community that God created us for.
"Love must be sincere." (Rom 12:9)
Do I just pretend to love others? Or do I actually love people genuinely - not just because I'm supposed to?
"Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." (Rom 12:9)
Do I hate evil the way that God does? This isn't a hating of a person, but a hate for the evil that happens in this world. Do I cling to - do I desire - what is good?
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love." (Rom 12:10)
Do I love those around me as brothers and sisters in Christ? Am I willing to put in the effort required to love those around me?
"Honor one another above yourself." (Rom 12:10)
Do I put others before myself? Or do I place msyelf and my desires above those of others? Do I consider others to be more important?
"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." (Rom 12:11)
Do I serve God with my life?
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (Rom 12:12)
Am I joyful because of the hope that I have? Am I patient when I am facing difficulties? Am I faithful in going to God in prayer?
"Share with God's people who are in need." (Rom 12:13)
Do I share with those in need willingly? Or do I share only grudging? Or do I not share with those in need at all?
"Practice hospitality." (Rom 12:13)
This is so much more than just entertaining people. It is caring for the needs of others through waht I have. Do I practice hospitality? Or do I look for ways to avoid doing so?
"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." (Rom 12:15)
Do I feel the highs and lows of life with those who are a aprt of my life? Or do I just brush off those things and alow them to go through those times alone?
"Live in harmony with one another." (Rom 12:16)
Do I do my best to live my life at peace with those? Do I deal with conflicts and disagreements quickly? Or do I try to ignore them and hope that they will just go away if I ignore them?
"Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position." (Rom 12:16)
Am I so concerned wiht my own social stastus that there are people I won't associate with because of how I may look for doing so? Do I allow my pride to get in the way of my interactions with certain people?
"Do not be conceited." (Rom 12:16)
Am I conceited?
"Do not repay anyone evil for evil." (Rom 12:17)
Do I seek to get someone back when they wrong me?
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Rom 12:18)
Do I make every effort to make peace with everyone?
"Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath." (Rom 12:19)
Do I spend my life seeking revenge on those who have wronged me? Or am I willing to leave that up to God?
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Rom 12:21)
Do I spend my time focusing on doing good in the midst of the evil that can happen around me? Or do I get caught up and overcome by the evil that will happen around me in this world?
As I thought through these questions, I realized that I have a long way to go in my own life in these areas. I know that I will always hav room for growth in these areas, while I live on this earth. This passage was really just challenging to me to think practically about how I lived my own life and where I needed to begin to make some changes. I hope that as you read the verses and questions above you were challenged in your lives as well.