There’s a phrase that I’ve heard a lot, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. It’s a great sentiment, and definitely the point Paul is making in this chapter. But Paul’s point isn’t to just make the world better, it is to show the love of God to the world.
“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.” (12:2 NLT). In Christ, we have become new creations. We are no longer the same people we were when we were in sin. However, every once in a while we fall and become like the person we were before. But God gives us the power to fight that tendency off, if we let Him. God has a will for our lives, and it is the best life we could possibly have. It might not be the same as the Jones’, it may not even be what you think is the best life. But God knows what is best, and wants to give it to us.
The two things that Jesus calls us to do is love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to also love each other as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). This is a very important commandment in our Christian walk. Extending grace and love should be something that we do instinctively. However, I know it’s hard to accomplish this task. Whether it be co-worker, friend, family, or someone you go to church with. Love is hard. Paul says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” (12:9 NLT). This means that we can’t just say that we love someone, or act nicely to them, then turn around and be mean about them. We can’t pretend. Loving God and loving people is something that we either do or don’t do, we can’t pretend.
The last thing that Paul gets at in this chapter is to allow God to handle evil. “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (12:21 NLT). This is a basic aspect of Jesus like love. Paul uses an example from Proverbs, “If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink.” (12:20, Proverbs 25:21 NLT). To me, the best example I can think of is in the gospel of Luke, when Jesus is arrested, Peter cuts off one of the guards ears. Now this man is clearly an enemy of Jesus. He works for the Pharisees and is seeking to arrest Jesus. But Jesus kneels down to him, and gives his ear back! (Luke 22:50-51). If Jesus can heal a man who came to arrest him, we should be able to treat our enemy as another human being, rather than ignore them or fight them at every opportunity.
As a Heart Man, we must constantly search for what is in God’s heart. I am convinced that at the center of it is love. That is the central point of our faith. Love and faith were such a different idea than what was taught in the time. As we have seen a lot in this writing, most believers thought that it was all about ritual and all the hoops to jump through. But Jesus said different. As Christians we should not do what the world tells us, and love the way God loves us. Sometimes it means a sacrifice for you, that’s when it’s hard, but it is just as important to do it. Think of Jesus on the Cross.