We’ve got your daily encouragement, written by Bruce Sampson.
“14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 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.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
If you haven’t wondered this, then surely others have once asked the question, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” With so many things that we watch, people that we may know, or perspectives that we keep, what really defines a Christian? Like how you can’t make guacamole without an avocado (not saying cilantro and lime aren’t important), there is too, an essential ingredient necessary as a Christian, and that is love.
In fact, Jesus even says that you can summarize all of God’s commands in two things: to love God and the second like it, to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37-39).
The Apostle Paul, a great writer, philosopher and spearheading leader chosen to spread the message of Jesus in the first century movement of the church, wrote our verses of the day on the topic of love. It was a letter originally sent to a community living in Rome in a time of hostility within the church. Their arguments and disapproval of each other came from their divided ideologies between Jewish and Gentile (non-Jewish) followers.
While Paul certainly addresses how love is required amongst fellow believers, the context for love that we see in verses 14-21 talks about a rich sense of love that Jesus walked in even for those who called him an enemy. Through our faith in Christ we are also called to activate this kind of love built on our understanding of the gospel. However, loving those that we enjoy is already hard enough let alone our enemies.
The entire concept of endurance in physical exercise leans on the assumption that we will face opposition. We shouldn’t be surprised when we are challenged in the same way to love. Love endures as it offers an authentic sense of empathy towards others (v. 15), creates harmony that’s made through a correct humility in ourselves to change (v. 16), and sacrifices the right to “get even” to maintain a reputation of peace.
God has called us all to endure because of the growth it produces, but not without his help. He has already done the heavy lifting for us to endure through his son Jesus. When we know the cost of love Jesus endured for us on the cross, that becomes our source to begin to pour out to others.
Thank you Jesus for your example of endurance in how you loved me even when I chose to walk away from you. I want to learn to love others the way that you have loved me. Train me up by your Spirit to embrace the opportunity to endure in hopes of growing closer to you. AMEN.
We can be generous with love when we are getting an enormous amount of love somewhere else. That somewhere is a Someone. Spend some time journaling and/or reflecting on this question:
How is God moving you to endure in love today by the source of his own love for you?
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