I was supposed to get a delivery yesterday, but the scheduled delivery never happened. The post office marked the reason as “business is closed.” I never knew that I was running a business at my home. If we are, there are no employees, no services provided, and no profits so we are failing miserably. The non-existent business may need to close its doors soon.
I’m assuming that this reasoning was a simple technical glitch or possibly someone wanting to push through their Sunday deliveries. It is possible that someone would assume a business-like order would actually be delivered to a business. By a quick review of the deliveries that often come to my home, one would assume there was a business here. I can understand the confusion.
Today, consider what people would say about you when they look at you. Could they tell that you are a Christian? Would they see some fruit in your life that would point them to Jesus? Do you look like everyone else? Would your actions give them a false assumption? Or is it possible the assumption isn’t false at all? Reflect inward today. Ask God to open your eyes. Are you shining His light? Are you living life on the narrow path? Has your religious routine neglected to impact your heart for Jesus?
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2 [NIV]
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light — for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth — discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made clear, for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you. Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:8-16 [HCSB]
Do Good. It’s a simple phrase but it’s not so easy for us. We have bad within us. The Bible says that our hearts are evil. Jeremiah 17:9 says that the “human heart is the most deceitful of all things.” The heart is so deceitful we cannot even know how bad it truly is because it’s that bad. Jesus says that evil comes from the hearts of men (see Mark 7:21). So we have bad inside us but we must do good. What a quandary!?!
Romans 12:21 says, “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” So don’t let the evil conquer you. Don’t let the evil control you. Don’t let all that evil within you be what guides your steps. Instead, do good and you’ll conquer the evil. How does this work? How can you do the good when the bad is within?
The Holy Spirit is called the Advocate for a reason. An advocate has a lot to do with support. The Spirit guides us, convicts us, teaches us, reveals to us, and more. The Fruit of the Spirit grows within us more as we continue to live in the Spirit, and allow Him to freely move within us. As He leads you to do good, you’ll find the more and more good you do will allow for less and less evil. What you put in, you get out. Then when the evil of the world comes at you, you will be filled with so much of the goodness that comes from God. You will be able to continue to do good despite the evil you are facing head on. If the evil doesn’t keep you from doing good, then there is victory. You can conquer evil by doing good. Start today. Do something good. Allow the Spirit to control your steps. The victory will come. Conquer the evil with good.
“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” – Romans 12:21 [NLT]
Harmony is difficult. When it comes to music, each person must be in sync for there to be true harmony. When it is done right, there will be a sound pleasing to ears. When it comes to people, harmony means that we live with a peace, that we understand each other. This understanding is like an agreement and it requires integrity, humility, and respect of others.
Roman 12 mentions this pride that gets in the way of enjoying others. Some people get too puffed up to hang out or associate with certain people. This person may look down on others who don’t match up with their self-righteous standards. Thus, being around “ordinary people” is dreaded. The passage then warns not to consider yourself a know-it-all, because once again you’ll be puffed up. You’ll have this desire to make everyone see that you are right, even if it means hurting another.
We are to live in peace with everyone. We are to be peacekeepers. Jesus was always right, but He was also always humble. It was never about being right. Remember, harmony requires humility. Don’t worry about getting in the last word. Listen more. Speak less, and speak life when speaking. Take the time to invest in everyone, even the ordinary. God came among the ordinary. He loves the ordinary. You just may find that the company of the ordinary is a great blessing. Do all you can to try to live in peace with everyone. Harmonious living is the unity that Jesus desired for His bride.
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:16, 18 [NLT]
Growing up, I was taught the value of hard work. I am very grateful that my parents instilled this into me, and I hope that my children learn this as well. In Romans 12:11, we read, “Never be lazy, but work hard.” The verse continues to say, “Serve the Lord enthusiastically.” Wow! This is more than simply getting the job done.
Serve the Lord enthusiastically. Cheerfully. There should be excitement, enthusiasm, and eagerness. ENERGY. Energy people around you can feel. This enthusiasm is contagious. This enthusiasm points to our Father, the One we are serving.
This enthusiasm is in high demand; it’s hard to find. It’s something special that is not on display everywhere you turn. Too many people get caught going through the motions. Friends, don’t get in a routine. Don’t lose your joy for service. Ask Him where He wants you to serve. Pour yourself into it. Remember that you are not alone. If you are doing what you were designed to do, the enthusiasm will be there. Keep walking in faithful obedience and as you grow where you are positioned, your excitement will be contagious.
“Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” – Romans 12:11 [NLT]
The Bible tells us that we are to honor people above ourselves. Some translations say that we are to “outdo one another in showing honor” (ESV, HCSB). This can also be translated as “excel in showing respect for each other” (GW). This respect or honor is not something we see often.
When you show respect to another person you are acknowledging them and showing that they matter. The verse tells us to “love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Not only must we love with true affection, but we should be eager to honor one another. This requires humility and grace.
How have you honored something recently? How have you reached out to show someone that they matter? Today, consider how you can do this with both word and deed. Take delight in honoring someone.
“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12:10 [NLT]
As Christians, we understand that we are each part of the body of Christ. We understand that the Church is comprised of many parts that each has a special function. The Church is people. Each of us are different. Each of us are part of the body of Christ. We also know that Jesus Christ spoke of unity and prayed for unity. This is important.
Paul wrote that “we all belong to each other,” as translated in the New Living Translation. I love this translation. We all belong to each other. I think this helps us to get a better picture of unity. If we belong to each other, it should mean that we care for those who belong to us. Don’t you care for your belongings? If we belong to each other, it should mean that we treasure those who belong to us. Don’t you treasure your belongings? Don’t you treat what you own nicely because it is of value to you? If we belong to each other, that means that not only does a person belong to you, but you belong to the person. This speaks of humility, connectivity, loyalty, and so much more.
One of the biggest areas we struggle with is unity. Jesus spoke a lot about unity because He knew of the struggles we would have with harmony as a body. When you take a group of imperfect people and join them together, there will be problems. But what links us together is the Holy Spirit. If we allow the Spirit to move freely and guide our steps, we can live as if we belong to each other. We can seek out the best interests for our brothers and sisters. We can think more of our fellow believers. We can treasure those God puts in our lives and ask Him how we can bless, encourage, and strengthen them on their walk. We can live within the unity instead of trying to break out on top. Remember today, we all belong to each other.
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” – Romans 12:4-5 [NLT]
When I speak with people about church, they always ask the denomination. Then I say, “Oh it’s non-denominational.” It’s an interesting phrase. There’s different denominations (for example Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist). Then there’s non-denominational. Those are the churches that claim to not be affiliated with any of the known denominations. After the Early Church that you read about in Acts, things started to break apart. As time continued, groups were formed from other groups. Some churches have so many different divisions in their names, it becomes a tongue twister.
The denominations all came about from a difference of beliefs. This still happens today, hence the reason we have tons of church plants and longer than life names. The reason for the differences of beliefs, and at times, disunity of the church, is because we are a broken people. The church is filled with sinners, many sinners who are saved by grace alone. But we aren’t perfect. Some of us are proud, lazy, quick to speak, discontent, disorganized, agenda focused, bossy, or fable telling folks. We aren’t perfect, so it’s hard for us to all live together in harmony.
Nonetheless, the Bible speaks a lot about unity or harmony. Yes, that’s the vision God has for His Church. The capital “C” Church is the universal church. Broken down, this is all of the denominations and non-denominations. Together, as the big C, we need to be united. Remember, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is people, not buildings. As the big C, we must remember Who we worship, Who we follow, Who is the Head of the Body. Even so, all of the little C’s need to also be united as separate bodies.
This seems like an impossible task. People can rarely get along. There are bound to be disagreements. Yes. Very true. But with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Remember the reason for the Church. Keep running the race. The Spirit will unite us if we allow ourselves to be led (Ephesians 4:3). Don’t be proud. Don’t think you know it all. Humble yourself and seek the best for others (1 Corinthians 10:24). Love. It’s the bond of perfect unity (see Colossians 3:14). Live in harmony.
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” – Romans 12:16 [NLT]
A tortoise stands up to allow lizards and birds to get the insects that are in the hard-to-reach areas. One would think that a tortoise would not want to surround himself with lizards and birds, that they are very different from the slow-paced life of the tortoise. While this action of the tortoise benefits the tortoise, who likely gets irritated and annoyed by the insects, it also benefits the lizards and birds, who get a nice meal. What a great way for these creatures to live together in harmony!
In life, we are supposed to live in harmony with each other too. This can seem like a hard task as we sometimes do not understand certain people or enjoy their company. We question why someone comes along our path. We see some people near us as a nuisance. There are people we do not see as helpful. Some people are draining. Let’s be honest. It’s true. You will not like everyone. You will not get along with everyone. You may not want to lift yourself up for a lizard to help you out, because you cannot get past the annoyance of the lizard.
When you face these challenges, understand that the other person is created in the image of God. Just like you, the person is a broken image-bearer. It may be for your good that you have encountered the person. Remember, God uses all things to accomplish His great purpose. God is continuing to grow you into who you were meant to be in life. Today, choose to rise up like the tortoise and elevate those around you. As you look out for the best interest of others, as you invest in others and do whatever you can do to speak life to them, God will use what you pour out for His glory and He will continue to mold you into His image and teach you how to love others as He loves.
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” – Romans 12:16 [ESV]
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27 [ESV]
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 [NASB]
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4 [ESV]
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12 [NIV]
I got a new debit card with a chip recently. I did not know much about the chip and asked the bank representative if there was anything special I needed to do with the card. I was told I just should swipe my card like usual. Everything was going fine. Today, I went to swipe my card but the machine wasn’t working. I did not know what was happening. My son told me to turn my card and insert it somewhere else, and just keep it there. I was so confused but listened to his wise instructions. In doing so, my account was debited—the bill was paid.
As you read the Bible, one thing you can easily see is the humility of Jesus. He is the Son of God; however, as He roamed this earth, He did not walk around acting like He was better than anyone. He did not act like He had no time for people. He didn’t act like He was perfect even though He was the only One Who ever lived a perfect, sinless life. What an example He is for each of us!
It is easy to ignore the wisdom of others, especially those who you deem as less experienced or people who are younger. Remember that God reveals Himself to all He desires. He teaches and uses whoever He desires. You are never too old or so educated that you know it all. You always have something else to learn and God puts people in your life to help you continue to grow. Be open to others. Do not let your ears close to people. You may be missing out on a key that will unlock something great in your life simply because you considered you knew it all. You will never get to where God meant you to be if you do not walk humbly with God.
“Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” – Proverbs 11:2 [NLT]
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” – Romans 12:16 [ESV]
On the way to work today, I got to see some crazy driving decisions face some immediate consequences. I was traveling my usual route, following a car moving in the direction of my office. Behind me, was a fella I will call Mr. Impatient. I am not sure if the person was a male or female, because the car traveled by so fast. What I do know is the driver decided to enter into the turning lane in a no-passing zone, and passed by myself and the car in front of me. It was clear to me the person wanted to get somewhere quickly. It was also clear to me that the local police officer just pulled out of the convenience store parking lot and noted right away that someone wasn’t following the laws of the road. The cheeky driver knew that he was spotted and he pulled over beside a car lot, with the police officer pulling up behind him.
It all happened so fast, but it surely left an impression. I found it interesting how the reckless driver so easily pulled over when the cop only began his pursuit, without even turning on his lights. It reminded me of our relationship with God, and how easily we wander off. God blessed us with His Word, which helps us to know how to travel the narrow path. He also gave us His Spirit to help convict us when we are traveling in the wrong way. We are the reckless drivers often. Sometimes we are quick to pull over and repent; sometimes we continue traveling despite the conviction.
Today, take some time to read His Word so the Spirit can help bring it to mind when it is most needed. Draw closer to God as you take in His Word and chew upon it. Ask the Spirit to reveal any areas in your life that should cause you to pull over so God can help you to get back on course. The choice is always there. We can travel the road we want at the speed we want; however, the narrow path that leads to life is the best road to travel. On that road, we follow the road signs God has provided, which may mean traveling at a pace slower than we would prefer.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 [NLT]