By Brooke Holt
“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” Romans 12:13-16
Throughout his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote about love. It began with God’s love for his people demonstrated in his Son Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross. As he moved into chapter 12, Paul began to teach about the outworking of God’s love for us. In response to this love, we children of God are to lay our lives down as “living sacrifices to God”. We are to glorify God in every part of our lives.
Paul then calls us to express another component of God’s love for us by loving each other. He picks up on it in Romans 12:9-12. This next section of the letter takes living out this love a step farther. At this point, Paul moves beyond the church community to love demonstrated to a world often hostile to God and his people.
He begins with the easier part of the call by asking the church to contribute to the needs of the saints. Paul reminded God’s people to be generous with their resources by recognizing the needs around them and then meeting those needs, especially those within the church but also beyond it. God’s people are to demonstrate his love by inviting people into their homes, feeding them good meals, and tending to their needs. Hospitality can be one of the greatest demonstrations of God’s love to others.
Whether people are in your home, or you encounter them in the grocery store or at the bus stop, Paul instructs us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep”. Paul wants us to show compassion and share fellowship with people. When someone is down, meet them in that place. Don’t just say ‘I am sorry’, or ‘I will pray for you’. Stay with them. Feel their pain. Share their tears. Break through the barrier of their sense of isolation and loneliness.
The same holds true for those who are rejoicing. Celebrate with them, laugh, enjoy their success, and leave any feelings of jealousy or envy behind you. Remember Paul’s words, “Let love be genuine” (Romans 12:9). Genuine love requires self-forgetfulness.
Paul won’t let up here or in the verses to come. He reminds us to live in harmony with others and to be humble. Both of those do not come naturally to our flesh. If someone hurts us, the temptation is to cut them off, not to live in harmony. The world tells us to better ourselves and to seek superiority over others. Christian faith tells us to do just the opposite – associate with those who are below you (or who you perceive to be below you).
God’s love changes you from the inside out. You receive his amazing love and grace which changes your insides. Your heart becomes his home. Then, you are called to love God’s people, the world, and even your enemies. Only God’s love lived out in the power of the Holy Spirit can make those commands your reality.
Are you receiving the love of God and then extending that love to the people in your neighborhood, workplace, grocery store, and beyond? Are you showing hospitality and practicing self-forgetfulness so you can rejoice with those who are rejoicing and weep with those who weep? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
Comments will be approved before showing up.