Again, my loved ones, do not seek revenge; instead, allow God’s wrath to make sure justice is served. Turn it over to Him. For the Scriptures say, “Revenge is Mine. I will settle all scores.” Romans 12:19TV
In a world of lawsuits and social activism, this scripture seems impossible. People want justice, and they want it now. It seems that if you choose to not seek revenge, then someone will do it for you.
I’ve certainly partaken in my dose of revenge, and I can honestly say it never felt good. Harboring resentment weighs you down and can even affect your health. Saying all these things, I realize they won’t motivate anyone to not take revenge. When it comes down to it, it’s a choice for us. Do we trust in God’s judgement, or do we take matters into our own hands?
Trusting the Lord to avenge is just part of the process. There is also a need to forgive those who hurt you. I know this sounds like a big challenge. It is! Which is why we need to access the Supernatural to help us perform something that isn’t natural. Why not ask for help from someone who is the King of forgiveness? He forgave you after all.
Spend some time with the Lord, and ask Him to reveal where you are holding on to some unforgiveness. Maybe it’s not one person. Maybe it’s a a group of people like a political party, or a social movement, or the media, or the popular crowd. Whoever it is, ask the Lord to help you forgive them, and trust that He will “settle the score.”
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
Simple enough, right?
Notice that this command has nothing to do with anyone else but you. It doesn’t say if the the other side is working toward peace, then live at peace also. It doesn”t say if the other side responds kindly, then pursue peace. The assumption is to not rely on the other person to bring peace, but for you as a redeemed child of God to bring His peace into the relationship.
How are you doing with this? Are there any of your relationships that don’t have peace right now? Focus on your side of things for a minute. Have you been doing all you can to bring peace to this relationship? Are you praying for that person? Are you praying God’s peace that surpasses either of your understandings in the relationship?
This verse also assumes there are times when the other side will just not allow peace, but the charge here is as far as your side of things, do everything you can to bring peace to every relationship. Sometimes it may mean not having to be right, even if you are, to bring peace.
Spend some time with the Lord and ask Him where you my be getting in the way of His peace in your relationships. If there is one person in particular that is on your mind, take a minute to pray for them. Pray God’s peace over them. Ask the Lord to give you the strength to bring peace even if that person resists it.
“Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone.” Romans 12:17AMP
I heard it once said, “You may be the only Jesus people see.” That can either be a sobering, scary, or motivating thought. How are you representing Him?
When you read through the gospels, you see how Jesus interacted with people. He never repayed evil for evil, never held a grudge, and never hit back. He maintained this remarkable behavior all the way through to the cross. More than that, Jesus made sure that his actions and life were “above reproach.”
When I was a in high school I learned this idea of being “above reproach,” meaning not just abstaining from sin, but rather not even having the hint of it in my life. For example, if I was at a gathering with my other teenage friends who were drinking alcohol out of red cups,I would make sure I didn’t use a red cup for my soda or water, so know one would even think I was under-age drinking. I know this sounds extreme, but I wanted my life to reflect Christ to my friends.
Now I want to be clear here: Living above reproach is not so much about minding a bunch of Christian Do’s and Don’t’s, but rather the goal is to more accurately reflect Christ.
How are you doing with living your life above reproach?
Spend some time with the Lord and ask Him to show you where and how you might not be representing Him well. Confess thes things to Him and then ask Him to show you a few specific ways to reflect Him to people around you. Take a minute to listen to what He brings up, write it down, and start incorporating it into your life today. Be the real life-transforming Jesus to a world that desperately needs to see it right now.
“Work toward unity, and live in harmony with one another. Avoid thinking you are better than others or wiser than the rest; instead, embrace common people and ordinary tasks.” Romans 12:16 TV
Unity and harmony sound like a great thing, and you will find few who would say they are opposed to it, so why is it such a hard thing to achieve?
Unity requires that you don’t just get along with those who get along with you and agree with you, but rather that you get along with those who are different than you and those who might not agree with you. Unfortunately, most of the big movements in the world today are not about unity and harmony; although they may raise these banners, they are more about getting everyone else to conform to their beliefs.
Jesus was a master at bringing people together and loving everyone regardless of where they came from or what social status they possesed. Even though He was Jesus, God incarnate, He never shyed away from associating with the outcasts and those who were of lower position. What is more, He always sought them out. Jesus met the where they were at and loved them even if they didn’t believe in Him. He also was a champion of serving others no matter how menial the task.
If we want unity and harmony, we’ve got to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and embrace those who are different than we are, even those who believe differently than we do. The only way to do this is to have a proper view of yourself, that you don’t know it all or have it all figured out.
Spend a miunte with the Lord asking Him to expose in you where you might think too highly of yourself. Spend some time confessing your sin to Him. Ask Him to show you how you can serve others better.
“If some have cause to celebrate, join in the celebration. And if others are weeping, join in that as well.” Romans 12:15 TV
I spent most of my life as a single guy and noticed there was nothing I desired more than to be able to have someone with me to share in my celebrations. It’s sad to say I have spent several of my birthdays by myself. I have also traveled by myself to some of the most breathtaking places, on trips that others would envy, but they weren’t as sweet without someone to share them with. Being quite famililar with being solo, I think I speak from firsthand experience saying that it is critical that we share in others’ joy. The easy thing is to stay at home and be selfish with your time, but celebrate with them, rejoice with them, laugh with them, show up. I also realize that sometimes celebrating others’ successes is not easy, especially when you feel you are not succeeding, but it’s important for us to do so.
Similarly, at the other extreme of human emotion, there is nothing more powerful than for someone to enter into your sorrow with you. It’s not an easy thing to do. In fact, it can be completely exhausting and suck the life out of you; howevever, when you are fully relying on the Lord, you will have the strength to endure someone’s hard times. I remember when I lost my father, I had friends drive hundreds of miles to be with me at his funeral. I will never forget that.That is what our faith is for: to give our strength to others when they are weak.
Take a minute with the Lord asking Him to help you be more generous with your time celebrating and mourning with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.” Romans 12:14TM
It sounds like a good idea. It even sounds like the right thing to do. The reality of actually doing it, however, is not as easy. It’s one thing to forgive your enemy but it’s another to wish blessing on him.
What is your first reaction when someone says bad things about you? What about when he is just outright cruel to you? If you are a normal human, your first reaction would be to get defensive or maybe fight back or maybe just get angry at him. We are not called to be normal though. We are called to be set apart, different.
To bless your enemies takes a different perspective. You have to know that your identity is secure in Christ, so that when it is attacked, you are not moved. It’s easy for me to write that but supernatural to execute it. Our faith has to be more than knowledge; it has to be in our very being if we are to accomplish this feat.
Let’s look at some real world examples and see how we do. How about your boss or company who won’t give you that raise or promotion or has even laid you off? Are you able to bless him? What about the authorities in your government making decisions that are oppressive and corrupt? Are you able to bless them? How about people on social media or even in person attacking or abusing you or someone you love?
Take a minute to sit with the Lord, and ask Him where you might need some help in this area. Spend some time confessing where you have let anger and bitterness rule in these situations. Pray blessing on those who have hurt you. It probably won’t be easy, especially if the act against you was horrific; nonetheless, ask Jesus to help you access the same strength He had when He said, “Father forgive them, for they no not what they do,” and then blessed us by laying down His life for us.
“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13NLT
The Church should always be more than a building; it should be about people sharing and giving their lives to each other. The Church should always be more than a pastor preaching on a Sunday; it should be about the body of Christ living out their faith every other day of the week in their community. Worship should be more than singing on Sundays; it should be our lives poured out for each other and for those who don’t know the Lord. Tithing should always be more than giving money on Sunday; it should be about helping each other out when there is a need.
We are the people of God. As some would say, we are the hands and feet of God. If that is true, then why aren’t His hands serving and healing? Why aren’t his feet spreading the good news of the gospel not only to unbelievers but also to each other?
Faith in Christ should always be more than just getting into Heaven; it should be about sacrificing ourselves for each other and for the gospel, knowing that He will give us the strength to do so.
Spend a minute with the Lord asking Him to show you how to truly live out being His hands and feet in your daily life and community. Ask Him to bring to mind some people who are in need. Write their names down. Pray for them. Why not ask the Lord how you can help them specifically. Now go love each other.
“Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer.” Romans 12:12TV
Rejoice. Hope. Perservere. Pray
How do we rejoice? To rejoice means to experience God’s grace and enjoy Him for who He is. One of my favorite translations comes from Eugene Peterson where he says that we should be “cheerfully expectant.”
One of the main reasons we rejoice is that we have hope. Not only the hope of our life to come, but the promise of God working things for the good. We hope, because Jesus has defeated death and offers us life.
We persevere because we have hope, which is more accessible when we are rejoicing in it.
To commit yourself to prayer, is talking less about bringing you list of sins and wishes to God but more of simply communing with God. Prayer is relationship and relationship is prayer.
So how do we “hold up through the hard times?” We pray. We rejoice. We hope.
Take some time to commune with the Lord. Ask Him to show you all the things you can rejoice in. Now sit and listen for a minute. Time yourself if you need. Write down everything He lays on your heart. Now get to rejoicing.
“Do not slack in your faithfulness and hard work. Let your spirit be on fire, bubbling up and boiling over, as you serve the Lord.” Romans 12:11TV
I don’t know about you, but this one is a tough one for me, especially in these times. I feel, at times, like I am barely hanging on, much less that I have zeal for the Lord. How would you rate your zeal right now? Is your spirit inside on fire for the Lord? Bubbling up at all? Boiling over?
If you are like I am, I feel like I am doing pretty well just to push through this time, but how do we keep our spiritual fervor alive? I believe the secret is found in the last several words, “as you serve the Lord.” If you are not serving the Lord, then you faith will most likely become stale, and you will probably end up in a frustrating circle of sin management. Serving the Lord, and serving others, is arguably the best way to stay fresh in your faith. As you pour yourself out, you will be desperate for the Lord to fill you up. As you put yourself out there, you will find the Lord is there to protect you and has even gone before you.
Is your faith stale? Do you find yourself feeling numb and apathetic? Give your life away! I don’t mean take you life literally, but give of yourself to others serving them without expecting anything in return. As you pour yourself out, you will find the Lord and experience Him in a new way. It won’t be long, if you continue to be faithful to serve, that suddenly your zeal will make a comeback.
Spend a minute asking the Lord to show you where and who you can serve. You may have to get a little creative during this time but don’t let that stop you.
“Be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another.” Romans 12:10 TPT
How do you treat others in the body of Christ? Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). How are you loving fellow believers?
Most of us are careful to hand out love to others. Maybe we learned at a young age to protect ourselves from getting hurt or maybe we just want to make sure we get a return on our investment. Jesus has a way of seeing through our schemes to withhold our love, as He tells us not only to be devoted to each other in brotherly love, but also to outdo each other with that love and respect. In other words, He is telling us to not hold back when loving our fellow believers and to love not expecting a thing in return.
Take a minute to ask yourself who in the family of God you have trouble loving, not just in your local church but in other denominations. Does the fact that you don’t like they way he does things, or that you don’t agree with a part of his theology exempt you from the call to love in these verses? Ask the Lord to show you where you need some work in this area. Confess your struggles to Him. Who can you show this love to today? Who do you need to show this love to today?