What do you do when things get tough? What actions do you take when you are standing in a storm? Many just melt under the stress and collapse into depression. I hope that isn’t you because no matter what happens, you do have hope. “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). Three things you can do when things don’t go as planned. With God there is always hope. I think of those who each day decide to end their lives. They couldn’t see any hope. As long as there is Jesus, there is hope.
“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). By grace through faith, hope is constantly by your side because it is in your heart. In the darkest situations, with God there is always hope. With hope comes patience. Rest in the finished work of Jesus. It will be okay. Keep the prayer channel open. Be instant in prayer. No need to beg, because God desires to answer you more than you know. Present you request, and then rejoice in hope. Keep rejoicing through it all.
Have you been hard at work, serving the Lord, and just getting tired? I once knew a person who was on fire for the Lord, knocking on doors, evangelizing wherever he could and chalking up salvation statistics. Sounds great—at first glance. However, I could tell it was out of duty and not under the power of the Spirit. It was less than a year, he got tired of it, and was a spiritual dropout, no longer going to church and doing nothing for the Lord. Therefore, when you read this verse, think about what Paul means by zeal and fervor.
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11 NIV2011). You will burn out if you read this verse and say I have to serve the Lord so I’m going out and walk the streets preaching the gospel. A worthy endeavor, but make sure you establish your zeal in God’s love. If you are in relationship with Jesus, love is never a burden. The joy of the Lord will strengthen you, and you will keep the flames steadily burning. You will look forward to each day and the ministry God has given you. Love to serve.
Grace people don’t talk much about behavior and performance. There’s a good reason for that. In too many church circles they relate behavior and performance to pleasing God, obeying the Word, and trying to get God to perform on their behalf by their good works. God isn’t going to love you more than He already does, regardless of your performance. You are in Christ. God sees you through Christ. He already has given you all things. When we look at imperatives and other characteristics of the believer, it’s not out of duty or obedience that we do anything, but solely out of love.
Therefore, when Paul lists things we should do or be, He is saying that these are the characteristics of a New Covenant believer, and not in any way another commandment. “Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other. (Romans 12:10 GW). It’s about love as usual. Jesus displayed His devotion to His disciples and His followers. Since we are in a family, we should treat one another as if we all were relatives, giving each other the respect due them.
Make sure love is your heart motivation. We are all in the family of God.
Are you pondering what I’m pondering? That’s the famous Pinky and the Brain line. Brain: “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?” Pinky: I think so, Brain, but pants with horizontal stripes make me look chubby.” If you need something to ponder, then look at this verse in Proverbs. “Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established” (Proverbs 4:26 NKJV). To ponder is to weigh the options as on a balance scale.
Charlene and I have done quite a bit of hiking in the Smokey Mountains. We occasionally came to a fork in the road, and we had to make a decision on which way to go. I normally study out the trail before we go and we usually make the right decisions as we ponder the direction we need to go. We have gotten off the trail at times and had to retrace our steps. The same thing is true in life. There are twists, turns, and forks in the roads, so ponder your path. Ask for God’s wisdom in every situation. Hike the tried and true paths and you won’t go wrong.
The Word is your map to life. Open it and ponder the way you should go. Establish the right from the wrong and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. You are pondering what I’m pondering.
Good versus evil—the consummate story line. Good triumphs over evil and they live happily until next week. So tune in. The average new programs have more evil than good. Bad news gets higher ratings than good news. However, bad is still bad, and good is good. “Hate evil, love good. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9 NKJV). Hate bad and hold onto the good. The news program I usually watch in the evenings always ends with a bit of good news – a special interest story. At least they leave you with the good to think about.
As believers, we are to cling like glue to the good things. Cling or cleave as the King James Version says, comes from the root word “glue.” Let the good stick to you. When a choice comes up, ask is this good or bad. I know that it can be subjective as one person’s good might be bad to another. I always reference the Word. I look at Jesus. When it comes to relationships, the good is always love. Everything else falls short. All this comes from the inner man and the good treasures of the heart.
What is the opposite of love? I would guess hate. You can’t love evil. The two things don’t go together. “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9 NKJV). Abhor is a strong word. It means hate. We need to be careful anytime we use the word hate. Jesus said to love our enemies. So whom can we hate? No one! We don’t hate people; we hate the evil they do.
Hate is a serious problem in today’s world. They have even coined a word for the problem calling them, “haters.” Jesus warned us, “If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Some people around the world hate Christians, so they hate you. However, we don’t return hate. The signature of a believer is that they love. Evil is from the evil one. He is at work in people around the world, doing harm to others. We hate that people are being killed. We hate that injustice and cruelty.
As Paul says later in the chapter, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
King James says, “Let love be without dissimulation.” What’s that about? “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9 NKJV). Other translations say, “Don’t just pretend to love others, really love them” (NLT). “Love must be sincere” (NIV). When we see these “let” statements, it means that these things are part of who we are in Christ. Our goal is to be like Him. We can see His character in these verses. These not imperatives, but attitudes coming from the heart.
Unless you have these character traits in you, from seeing Jesus, then you won’t be able to see them play out in the world. That’s why Paul says to love without pretense. It’s hard to fake love for very long although there are church people who do. Apparently Paul through the Holy Spirit thought it important to say. Love can only come through those who know they are loved. We love because He loved us first. Of the virtues of faith, hope, and love, love is the greatest. All of Christianity revolves around love.
It’s by our love we will reach the world. Go out of your way to genuinely love others.
Do you have the gift of compassion? If so then use you gift cheerfully. “6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8 NKJV). A better word than mercy is compassion.
People with the grace gift of compassion, have a rare gift. It’s interesting that Paul said if you have this gift then do it cheerfully. The thing about compassion is it leads you to the down and out, to people who others look down on—people hard to work with. It might be a homeless person who hasn’t had a bath in two weeks. It might be a handicapped person who is difficult to handle. It might be an untrustworthy individual. It’s easy to get angry and upset with some people. That’s why Paul says if you have the gift of compassion, you will do it cheerfully.
You are a special person with a special gift of grace.