Now, for my Bible study in Romans we have been working through some very tough verses this week. Romans 12: 9-21. I got stuck on the very first one…Love must be sincere. How many times have I reacted to difficult people even my own husband in a way that was insincere?
In Sunday School last week we were given the task of writing down 50 ways we are self centered. I found that I do a lot of the right things with the wrong motives. Generally if we have wrong motives it is out of pride and self centeredness and not because we are serving the Lord.
Some of the activities I used to do in love for my husband I now do out of routine and obligation. Cooking meals, caring for him, sometimes even conversation. It is amazing how we begin to take things for granted and we don’t give them their proper place. Can I really say that I love the people I work with? I try to be a blessing there, but isn’t it really about my own conscience and not out of love? Even in my fellowship with other Christians, do I really put their interests before my own? Do I love them enough to sacrifice anything of my own desires to meet their needs? Between the Sunday School lesson and my Bible study, I have been shot down, my very nature exposed.
I am not saying this because I am looking for encouragement. Last week in Romans 12:3-8 we discussed how not only to we often think of ourselves more highly than we ought, that sometimes when we put ourselves down it is a form of pride because we are looking for someone to counter our statements of self abasement. This is not my motive here; I was just trying to share how the Holy Spirit works to convict us of our sin and expose our self righteousness for what it is… pride.
As you look through Romans 12:9-21, you can see the challenges didn’t get any easier. Patient in affliction? Say it isn’t so! I want it over NOW! Oh, yeah, here is a good one, “Bless those who persecute you”. I can’t say that is my first inclination. One more, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Can’t we just accept that there are some that we will always be at odds with?
Thank God, I have his Holy Spirit to remind me of these things and to help me channel my responses to be more like his. Apart from depending on God’s wisdom and strength, I just couldn’t do it. I can’t always say that I want to. I hope that one day I can say that I want to be patient in affliction and that I want to bless those who persecute me.
I think God gave me these verses this week just to show me how far I have come and how far I still have to go. I can say that God has grown me in some ways. I can begin to see more of spiritual needs of those who afflict me and it gives me more compassion for them. I can see how God has used affliction in my past to grow me and to change my thinking and to teach me to trust Him alone. It doesn’t mean I like it more, it just means that I can accept that while I don’t currently see the purpose I can trust God that there is one.