I wrote this series of blog posts for the daily podcast HopeStreamRadio.
In the English Standard Version, Romans 12:9-20 says, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink …”
Rejoice in Hope
We as Christians are to rejoice in hope. And we certainly have much to be hopeful for. It has a lot to do with our focus. While we live in the here and now, we must be careful not to be weighed down by our situation. I love what it says in Ephesians 2:6-7: “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
If sin seems to get the better of us, we have the assurance that we are forgiven if we are believers in Jesus Christ. And we have the hope that He will give us the strength and determination to do better in the days ahead.
If we are weighed down by illness and exhaustion, we have hope of an eternity in heaven where these burdens will no longer exist.
And if we’re carrying an emotional burden that threatens to immobilize us, we have the hope found in Revelation 7:17 that God Himself will wipe away every tear. Talk about hope!
Be Patient in Tribulation
If we have this kind of hope, it makes the next trait easier to develop. We are to be patient in tribulation. Some of the people I respect most highly are those who face some form of tribulation every day and yet continue to faithfully serve the Lord.
Whether we’re facing illness, sorrow, financial calamity, or any other trial, we can rest assured that God still loves us, that He is faithful, and that He will give us the wherewithal to remain patient and obedient. We, too, can set a good example for others.
Be Constant in Prayer
The next trait of a genuine believer in Jesus is something I haven’t gotten a handle on yet. Christians are to be constant in prayer, which of course lines up perfectly with 1 Thessalonians 5:17. This verse says we are to “pray continually.”
Bible study and prayer are on my daily To Do list. I usually read from God’s Word and pray, in one form or another, each day, but I don’t dig as deeply into God’s Word as I should nor do I set aside adequate time to focus exclusively on prayer. While it’s great to fire off requests and give thanks throughout the day, to be constant in prayer means more than this.
It isn’t an either/or situation. It’s both/and. Praying now and then throughout the day reminds us that God is present at all times and wants to be part of our every endeavour. Setting aside time to do nothing but pray reminds us how dependent we are on Him. He doesn’t call us to rush from one task to the next to the next every waking moment.
From time to time I think of a quote attributed to Martin Luther. Apparently, when he was especially busy, he would begin his day with three hours of prayer. Wow! I can’t see myself doing that, but it serves as inspiration to pray much more than I do currently.
The Bible has much to say about prayer. Perhaps one day, I will write a series of devotionals on the topic.
Contribute to the Needs of the Saints
The last mark of a true believer we’ll talk about today is the command to contribute to the needs of the saints. For clarification, I believe the word saint refers to any believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. What this passage is saying is that we are to do what we can to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
If we have financial resources, there are many scripture references that indicate we are to share with those who don’t.
If a fellow Christian needs a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, sometimes it’s simply a matter of being there for them.
If a brother or sister in Christ is struggling in their faith, we can come alongside them and dig into God’s Word together. We can pray for and with them. We can let them know their spiritual well-being is important to us.
And this is only the beginning of how we can help those in need.