Glenn W. Harrell
The following represents at least one seemingly impossible behavior for you and me. Check off the one or ones that you do quite naturally and consistently.
1-____ “Be sincere in your love for others.
2-____ Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good.
3-____ Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself.
4-____ Never give up.
5-____ Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord.
6-____ Let your hope make you glad.
7-____ Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying.
8-____ Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home.
9-____ Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them.
10-____ When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad.
11-____ Be friendly with everyone.
12-____ Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others.
13-____ Make friends with ordinary people.
14-____ Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, and do your best to live at peace with everyone.
15-____ Dear friends, don’t try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says,
“I am the one to take revenge and pay them back.” The Scriptures also say, “If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat. And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. This will be the same as piling burning coals on their heads.” Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.” –Romans 12:9-21
How did you do? What do you think about those remaining blanks?
Before I go any further, it is worth noting that people who are not Christians may score very well on this check-off.
In fact, for those of us having been born again by God’s Spirit, it is possible that we, at any point in our journey, can score poorly.
All just to say that these are not attributes for competition, rather simple demonstration. When Jesus said,
“The rain falls on the just and the unjust”, he was reminding us that all of God’s creation, in its freedom, can take advantage of diviner order and character—or not. What is the difference then in a Christian or a non-Christian who “never gives up” for example, or who is “being friendly with everyone”? From a world view, essentially nothing. From a heavenly view, the following is noteworthy.
Look closely at #’s 5, 7, 8, 9, 15. The non-Christian will not be particularly eager to involve “The Lord” in what may well be used as a “do-gooder” contest of self-power, will and ambition. The Christian will distinctly know the differences of motive and source of power to accomplish that which is otherwise very unlikely. Look at the preceding 8 verses of Romans, chapter 12. They describe how very much differently the Christian views vv.9-21. Christians must add the following distinctives to the equation:
12:1 “Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God.
The Christians behaviors are rooted in this life-offering and as a result, life-service follows. Acceptable offerings result in acceptable service and good works done with acceptable motivations. They are indeed a “Spiritual service of worship” to and for God, not a mere knee-jerk policy of Darwinian-demand or a display of one-up-man-ship.
12:2 “Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.”
People of this world, (outsiders, non-Christians, unsaved, lost and the objects of Gods long-suffering-love) are here set up as examples for the Christian to no longer be like. This is not because Christians are deemed “better-than” the un-saved. And by the way, if you are a non-Christian and reading this, please know that there are far too many professing Christians who indeed do want to feel somehow superior to you. These people are likely not Christian at all, merely moralists who cannot understand grace and forgiveness, because they never received them. The tell-tale sign is if they try to compete with you, morally-speaking. Please try to ignore them.
“The World” is a way of life that ignores God, and in fact, often abhors God. Christians can no longer live this way, and their one hope of change is how they think. Their one hope of thinking differently is to “LET GOD DO THE CHANGING OF THOUGHT.”
If any of us as Christians, hope to live out our 1-15 admonitions listed above, we must begin with offering ourselves freely and without re-call, to God. We do it daily because our thinker has already been twisted and re-shaped towards Gods way of thinking.
This is how an IMPOSSIBLE behavior becomes POSSIBLE. God is Resolute about changing the way His children think and act in this world! Resolution-ally thinking, I just cooperate with His resolution, and this is pleasing to Him.