Hunkered Down Devotion

Romans 12:9-12 (Voice)
9 Love others well, and don’t hide behind a mask; love authentically. Despise evil; pursue what is good as if your life depends on it. 10 Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first. 11 Do not slack in your faithfulness and hard work. Let your spirit be on fire, bubbling up and boiling over, as you serve the Lord. 12 Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer.

What a strange time we live in…. perhaps if Paul were re-writing verse nine of Romans 12 in 2020, he might say something like: ‘Love others well, so hide your nose and face behind a mask’. He might agree to that re-write because his point in this passage is about demonstrating Christ-like love for others.

There are almost an infinite number of examples of what ‘Christ-like’ love looks like, but there are a few guiding principles that are always present.   One of them is the focus of Paul’s writing here: Christ-like love always values and considers the ‘other’ before oneself.

The words – and their meaning – is crystal clear: ‘Be first to honor others by putting them first’.  We all know this is the call on our lives.  Those of us that are parents, seek to teach this to our kids, when we say something like, ‘treat him how you want to be treated’, etc.  I don’t know how that works in your house, but in our house, sadly, it often falls on deaf ears.

Of course, I do know how it goes in your house – the exact same way as it goes in mine.  I know this because even though we try and teach it to our children, because we know it is important, it is hard for us to live into it ourselves.

Paul makes it clear that to live in this Christ-like way will require hard work and perseverance.  But it isn’t all difficult news from Paul, don’t miss what he says in the second half of verse nine: Live authentically.

What does that mean and why does that matter?  This is Paul reminding us that no matter how hard it might be to follow Christ and to live out the love we have received from him, it is actually the only way to be who we truly are.  Living like Christ is to live as our true full selves.  Anything else is falls short of who we were created to be.

Finally, in another sign that perhaps this passage was written for such a time as this, Paul ends with some encouragement for us as we seek to follow Jesus and love fully and selflessly as he has taught us.  Hope is always just around the corner.  Hard times might be here or they might be coming, but so is hope.  We aren’t ever alone.

Sharing God’s Love,

Prayer: Lord, let us love the way we have been loved by you – selflessly, recklessly, and fully.   Amen.

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