Behave!

Near the end of Romans 12 Paul provides a list of exhortations as to how a Christian should behave…how he/she should live his/her life. As I mentioned yesterday, Paul transitions from a focus on theology to a focus on how to live that theology out in the real world. If you would like a nice “checklist” to consider on a regular basis here is one that Paul suggests: Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”  21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 I don’t think Paul has in mind a new set of rules or regulations for the follower of Jesus. Rather, I think these statements are part of Paul’s understanding as to how the follower of Jesus should live. But that is the key point. This is Paul’s understanding of how the “follower of Jesus” should live. The follower of Jesus shouldn’t expect this of others, getting angry or upset if others don’t live up to this standard. Really, there is no reason to get angry or upset if anyone doesn’t live up to this standard. I have said in the past that “believior determines behavior”. What we believe drives what we do…this is true for everyone. But today I was thinking about the word “behave”. I think Paul would agree with me that what we are to “be” is possible because of Who we “have”. We can “be” the way Paul lists in Romans 12 when we “have” the living Christ in us. We can “behave” because of the power of God. I suggest reading through the list Paul has given us today and ask yourself if there is a behavior that falls short in your life…repent, ask for forgiveness, and “behave”.

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