Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Romans 12: Live peacably with all men...

I picked up a copy of Our Daily Bread at a local church, partly in remembrance of my grandma, who would often use this publication for her devotional time.

I wanted to share one of the Scriptures from the other day's reading, as well as my thoughts pertaining to it.

Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Christmas is a time of year when one of the pervading themes is "Peace!".  Yet, with the hustle and bustle of life (that only gets more and more so this time of year), it's easy to lose touch with both the inner peace in our relationship with Christ, as well as the peace we need to be living out in our day to day walk. Road rage? Rude fellow shoppers? Arguments between family and friends due to being overstressed and overwhelmed and (let's admit it) sometimes irrational? Yeah, not exactly conducive to peace.

How can we live peaceably with all men (and women, and children....)?

1. It's about making ourselves presentable to God. Or rather, it's about setting ourselves aside and living a sacrificial, holy life, acceptable to God. (vs.1)
We aren't to blend in to this world and its sinful ways.  Rather, in having our minds renewed by Christ and His Word, we are to be changed and show what is the "good, acceptable, and perfect will of God" (vs. 2). This doesn't mean we stand out on the edge of a funeral of someone who lived some way we don't feel was right and protest. That is not a way to live peaceably with all men and promote the love of Christ.  In fact, it often has quite the opposite effect.
We are not to approach the world with a prideful, self righteous attitude (vs. 3 we are "not to think of <ourselves> more highly than <we> ought to think").

Let's read further.

2. It's about finding your place in the body of Christ and serving there. Verse 4-5 tells us that the followers of Christ each have a job to do. Much like the eye or the hand or the foot or any of the other parts of a physical body have their own purpose and "job description", we each as believers have a gift or talent(s) that we have been given to use to serve God and others.

"As each one does his part, the body <of Christ> grows in love" Ephesians 4:16 (NET)
"As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." I Peter 4:10 (NKJV)

There are many gifts listed in Romans 12:6-9, as well as how we are to use them.  More gifts are listed in other Scriptures (I Cor. 12-14, Eph 4, I Peter 4...) .

What is your gift or talent? Are you using it to serve Him?

Is your focus on Christ and using your gifts for Him, or is your focus on being served?

3. Show brotherly love. vs 9-16 Read these verses to see how we should be interacting with each other in various life settings. The things that jump out to me are that in the midst of it all, we need to be serving the Lord, praying, blessing (and not cursing) others.

4. When Conflict Comes: It's not about the other person: it's about you.Vs. 17-21
Conflict inevitably happens at one time or another. This is where the verse about living in peace with all men comes into play.

When someone insults or hurts us in some way, intentional or not, we are not to do the same to them. We are not justified in doing so, no matter how much we feel we are.  We are to "do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable" vs. 17 (NLT)

Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
I am not responsible for anyone else's behavior: only my own.  You are responsible for your own behavior. Own it. (Matthew 7 and Luke 6 are other good places to read on this topic)

Revenge is for the Lord to decide and do: not for us. (vs. 19) It's not up to me to seek revenge (or even be passive-aggressive).

Bless your enemy--look for his needs and help him out (vs. 20)

and the last verse:
"Don't let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good." (vs. 21) (NLT)

The Bible tells us to be quick to hear, slow to speak....slow to anger. (James 1:19) Take some time to digest whatever situation is at hand, whether the kids are driving you crazy, someone cuts you off in traffic, someone grabs the last item at the store that you were hunting for to complete your gift list...whatever.

Assign positive intent to the people that wrong you. And when you can't think of any sort of possible positive intent, still choose to bless that person.  (Romans 12:20)

So, let me challenge you to examine yourself and how you are doing in your walk with Christ. First, have you accepted his free gift of salvation from sin? How is He working on you? How is He asking you to serve Him? What gifts has He given you? How do you fit into the body of Christ, and are you doing what you are called to do in service to Christ (and others)?  Are you possibly doing something that you are not called by Him to do?  Are you emulating Christ, both to your Christian brother and sister and to unbelievers?

Let your light shine for Jesus this Christmas season!
Blessings to you and yours!

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