The Bible is filled with great information. If you want wisdom, read the book of Proverbs. If you want beautiful writing and a blueprint on how to pray, read the book of Psalms. If you want an example to follow, read about the life and death of Jesus Christ in the books Mathew, Mark, Luke and/or John. However, I have found a single paragraph that has changed the way I live my life. I believe that if every single person would take this paragraph to heart, this world would look very different.
Almost 2,000 years ago, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to Christians who were living in Rome. This letter wasn’t just to the Jews, but also the gentiles that were part of the Roman Church. The letter covered many things, including what to believe and how to behave. And this is where I read a paragraph that has changed my life. The following is out of the New Living Translation, Romans 12:9-13:
“(9) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. (10) Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. (11) Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. (12) Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep on praying. (13) When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
Don’t just pretend to love others, really love them. Because of this verse, I have started listening when people talk — really listening. I have started asking about their family, remembering their kids’ names. The only way I am able to do that is stop thinking about me or what I’m going to say next and just listen. Choose to love them.
Hate what is wrong – hold tightly to what is good. Our minds are what we feed it. Garbage in- garbage out. The music we listen to, the TV programs we watch, the books and magazines we read, are all food for the mind. I am now very mindful of what I feed my mind.
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. What if every single person went to work next week and actively looked for ways to praise a different coworker everyday for a week? A month? A year? How would that change the atmosphere at your job?
Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. I found the more time I volunteer and the harder I work at it, the more energy I have for it. Volunteering is a little like running. The first steps out of bed or off the couch are always the hardest.
Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep on praying. This passage has inspired me because my confident hope is in Jesus. He took all of my past and future sins and bore the punishment for me. I can be confident that through his death and more importantly, his resurrection, His love for me is everlasting. What other option do I have but to love Him with all my heart? Because I know what he went through to show his love for me, when trouble comes (and in this life, trouble will always come), I have a peace in the middle of the storm that only He can provide.
When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. This one hits close to home. I failed miserably at this the other day. I had just asked God in my prayer time for an opportunity to share His love in some way. I was on my way to work on the highway when I saw a guy get out of his broken down car and start walking. I was probably only five car lengths away from him when I hit the brake. But I kept going. I hit the brake again, but kept going. I went for more than two miles hitting the brakes then changing my mind.
I felt sick to my stomach when it finally sunk in that God had placed an opportunity right in front of me, but I had chickened out. I felt disappointed in myself for not seizing the opportunity to pull over. I could have offered him a ride, my cell phone to make as many calls as he needed, and the $10 I had in my wallet.
As I drove down the road, I made the decision to go back. Even if he was already at the next gas station, I had to turn around. It took me 15 minutes to get back to where his car was. He was already off the interstate. It was then that those words crept back into my thoughts “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.” I know I will not let that opportunity pass again.
What would happen if every person took Romans 12:9-13 and made it their mission statement? What would this world look like? Maybe someone behind me that morning on the interstate had taken this to heart. Will you?