let love be without hypocrisy.abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.be devoted to one another in brotherly love;give preference to one another in honor;not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,contributing to the needs of the saints,practicing hospitality.bless those who persecute you;bless and do not curse.rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.be of the same mind toward one another;do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.do not be wise in your own estimation.never pay back evil for evil to anyone.respect what is right in the sight of all men.if possible, so far as it depends on you,be at peace with all men.never take your own revenge, beloved,but leave room for the wrath of God,for it is written, "vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord."but if your enemy is hungry, feed him,and if he is thirsty, give him a drink;or in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."do not be overcome by evil,but overcome evil with good.
you know when you are reading and suddenly your heart slows down on one passage? well, this happened with this one. here are some small thoughts...
we are called to love each other, and as we all know our love is supposed to look like the love of the One we are following. i have heard many call evil "good" and good "evil" in the name of "love," but that isn't love. He never did that. He was consistent and completely and wholly righteous - loving what is right in the sight of the Father. He loved broken people, and then urged them to go and stop sinning - caring for them in both the moment and for their eternity.
"be devoted... give preference... serving the Lord..." servanthood. i find it so interesting that the current trend in churches is to distance ourselves from being a servant. somehow we try to treat being friends of God as entirely different from being servants of God. there is no difference. Jesus served His friends... He served His enemies... He served the ones who were about to betray Him... He served those sent to kill Him... i don't see any separation of servant and friend in Him. in Him, i see it looking like the same thing - if you are a friend, you serve. that is how you even know you are a friend. being a servant is really unto Him, no matter who it is in front of us that we are serving. sure that means we may get walked all over at times; but if we can view it as actually serving the Lord instead of having something to gain in the relationship we are serving in, it will give so much more perspective when our serving may go seemingly unnoticed or with little immediate fruit.
"persevering in hope..." too much to go into on this one. all i will say is if He isn't our Hope, with a capital H, then we are chasing the wind. hope isn't just our personal dreams, it is the Hope that He will return. when Hope in Him is the anchor, we won't be so easily swayed to and fro. i have some "small h" hopes like everyone else. if i try to anchor myself in these, i am sure to be disappointed. He is the One who will never disappoint because He really will come make all the wrong things right.
tribulation, persecution, revenge, enemies - interesting how it is so easy to think we would be faithful if there was a gun to our heads, but we struggle so much with someone simply mistreated us (totally talking to myself here!). sooooo easy to want to make sure the other person makes it right, instead of letting God be the One who makes it right (and that might not be until the Day of the Lord). my guess is most of us aren't anchored enough in the fact that there will be a day when we all stand before Him to give an account for our own lives- the day that He will make all wrong things right - the reality of both eternal reward and eternal punishment. i think if i, myself, could really believe that He will one day judge, then i would be much quicker to forgive. don't i want mercy for both myself and others? but somehow i get so wrapped up in the here and now... i am sure a lot of you do as well.
one other part that stood out huge to me:
"be of the same mind toward one another;
do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly."
i think so often we are trying to get in good with the people we think will benefit our own cause, be it they have some sort of influence in leadership or popularity or money, and we ignore those who we consider "lowly." i know i felt convicted when i read this part. it is so easy to think others do this, but each one of us do it. it is easy to even follow and comment more on the "popular" blogs in our particular niche. we all want to feel "important." but that is "being wise in our own estimation."
last thought - "contributing to the needs of the saints - practicing hospitality." i think sometimes walking in love like Jesus can be so simple that we overlook it for something more grand and noticeable. we all have something to give to help our friend and brother in Christ - maybe it is $5. maybe it is some extra rice and beans we have in our pantry that we didn't think would be exciting enough to share. maybe it is just an invitation to come over and share a cup of coffee or tea for an hour or two. maybe it is watching the kids of a mom who seems overwhelmed for an hour while she grocery shops alone. what is the need in front of me that may seem so simple i wouldn't think of helping with it? hospitality doesn't have to mean a spotless house and a 5 course meal on pretty dishes. i think so often we look at our own lack and tell ourselves we don't have anything to give to our friends in need because we can't give big exciting looking things. sometimes people are in such need themselves that it is easy to think that someone else should be doing this, and they get disappointed in the "church," instead of realizing it is a call to action for themselves to pour out. we all have something to give towards someone else's need. we all can welcome someone else into our heart and home.
anything in this passage that is speaking to you right now?