Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2
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. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:9-16
Love must be sincere.
Be devoted to one another in love.
Be joyful in hope.
Rejoice with those who rejoice. Mourn with those who mourn.
Live in harmony with one another.
Looking at Paul’s list of exhortations can be both inspirational and overwhelming, can’t it? Of course we want to fulfill all these things and live the kind of soul-filling lives described by these verses. We want to live in harmony with one another and be good members of the community, building up those who build us up in return. But at the same time, it takes work and we are a tired, busy people who often fail to live up to what we truly intend to do and hope to be. How can we be the people described in these verses?
The starting point to living as the people described in Romans 12:9-16 actually comes earlier in Romans: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2).
Our ability to love God and love our neighbors is rooted in the fact that God loved us first. He has shown us his great love and mercy- a greater love and mercy than we could ever truly and fully comprehend- through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And if we are followers of Jesus we are being transformed through his Spirit to reflect his way and his heart. As we contemplate how to live well in community we need to remind ourselves that living well in community, being the kind of people who embody Paul’s list, begins with being rooted in Christ’s love that then empowers us to love others well.
What reminds you that you are deeply loved by Jesus? Is it meditating on a psalm? Listening to a hymn? Taking a walk and praying? Whatever it is, take time today to remind yourself of God’s love.
By Jessica Rust