Tuesday, May 14, 2019
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
A few verses with much to say. The big word to describe them are “exhortations,” thirteen to be exact. They are so short, each of them, that the danger is we will forget them as soon as we read them. Love with sincerity? Check, got that. Hate evil – of course! But then we go on and five minutes later it’s as if we haven’t read any of the words.
Paul’s intent in writing to this mostly Gentile audience is that they “might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:16) Through the presence of the Holy Spirit within us by faith, God wishes us to be transformed from our hearts outward to the behaviors we do each day.
So what if we were to pray about each of them in turn? Lord, help me love others in ways that honor you. Don’t let me use glib words that are meaningless, but mean what I say and say only what is right and good. Jesus is my example of deep and abiding love, strong enough to decide I was worth dying for to redeem. He forgave me of my failures and I want to love others that same way. I know I don’t always do that, but I want to try again to do better.
If I can pray about living sincere love, maybe I can also pray about the pervasive presence of evil and institutions that perpetuate injustice, even harm. Lord, are you calling me to show I hate evil by seeking to rectify a wrong? Any one of these phrases are worthy of closer attention and a resolution to change.
I want to take a few minutes with each phrase, because God may be asking me to consider the deeper meaning of any of them and what impact they have on how I should live. Let Christ be my model and foundation as I pray, for Jesus lived all these words and more.
Lord, you are good, far beyond my imagining. You encourage me to walk more closely with Jesus in choosing to really live these simple phrases. Speak to me as I read them again and pray over them, but slowly this time. If I have failed in some specific way, point it out to me that I may repent. Let me keep these words imbedded in my heart, so that I may live for your glory. By your Holy Spirit, change me to be the person you want me to be. This I pray in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.