Love that has its foundation in divine transformation shows compassion within the body of Christ and has great influence in the surrounding community.
We have been studying the love Christians should have within the body of Christ (Romans 12:9-16). The pointed commands beginning in verse 13 seem random, but they do flow from what Paul wrote in the verses just before. Love that is holy, relational, passionate in serving and persevering, will be aware in these ways.
The latter half of Romans 12 instructs Christians on the kind of love we should display. Our love is holy, relational, passionate, and aware. A series of direct imperatives begins in Romans 12:13. Love is intentional about its surroundings.
Romans 12:9-16’s list of responsibilities may seem to have no rhyme or reason to their order, but they fit into the chapter context perfectly. Romans 12 begins the practical portion of the book as we seek to live God’s glorious gospel outlined in Romans 1-11. If the chapter is a 3-story house, verses 1-2 are the foundation. Verses 3-8 are the first floor named Community. The second floor, verses 9-16, is about Compassion. Verses 17-21 address our Commission.
As a child, were you fascinated by small wonders like lightning bugs? G.K. Chesterton said, "What is wonderful about childhood is that anything in it was a wonder. It was not merely a world full of miracles; it was a miraculous world.”
As Christians, God has placed us in a miraculous world of wonder. He calls it Christ's body, the church. As we move into the practical portion of the book, Romans 12:3-8 gives us the first practical aspect of our salvation.
Survival shows intrigue us when we see how shockingly few things are necessary to survive in a wilderness. The world we live in is an extreme, fallen, undiscerning spiritual wilderness, but the Lord has provided us with the simple yet essential tools of spiritual survival for daily living.
We live in the most informed generation possibly of all time. We have an enormous amount of information available to us, whether it is legitimate or not. Thomas Jefferson used the phrase "knowledge is power" in his letters at least four times, each time regarding the establishment of a state university in Virginia. He also believed in the power of knowledge to bring safety and happiness.
Despite the amount of knowledge acquired by all generations leading to ours, we still have not curbed societal ills of hatred, violence, immorality, and addiction. Knowledge cannot control our passions. It cannot change the human condition.
There is only one kind of knowledge that can permanently change a person. "Only intelligent commitment of a life in light of God's gift of salvation can curb the human condition" (Bennett). Only God receives the glory for changing a human being and sustaining that transformation (Romans 11:36). Sinful people need to hear of Christ and surrender their hearts to His authority.
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