God often calls us to visit, and re-visit, a passage of scripture until it ‘sits well’ with us. Until we’ve absorbed it.
This week I was moved to reflect on a section which is full of practical wisdom for living a life of love.
Romans 12:9-18 contains a list of ‘top tips’ from the writer, Paul, for the Roman church. They are inspired by the teachings of Jesus and read as follows. I have followed up each point with a short prayer.
1. Love must be sincere.
Help me to love with sincerity and strength of purpose. May my love for others flow from the love you have for me, which is the most genuine and true of all. Help me to love others deeply, from the heart, and turn my words about love into everyday actions that demonstrate it.
2. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Lord, your light has the power to extinguish the darkness, yet we still choose to play in the ‘alleyways’. May I choose, daily, to actively resist evil in Jesus’ name, putting on the full armour of God. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). May I cling to what is good, because my freedom relies on it.
3. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.
Thank you that the Holy Spirit gives us the power to love as Jesus does. Show me how to love my brothers and sisters. Show me how to give honour, even when I don’t feel like it. Show me your heart for others.
4. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Renew my fervour, oh Lord. May the Holy Spirit give me the passion and power to love and serve the world you’ve placed me into. Thank you for the spiritual resources you offer me to do your work with joy.
5. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
I can choose joy because I’ve been redeemed from the darkness. My hope is in heaven – my ultimate home. Give me the ability to endure trials and to pray without ceasing in all seasons.
6. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Lord, all I have is yours. Help me to pass on the blessings I’ve received to others, with love and joy.
7. Bless those who persecute you.
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3)
Lord, help me to remember where I was, and show love and forgiveness to those who don’t yet know you.
8. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Help me to identify with others, no matter what they’re going through. Help me to show the same compassion you’ve shown me, and be happy for friends who are celebrating good things.
9. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Lord, help me to represent you well. I offer my whole self as a living sacrifice. I surrender my desire for justice to you, and ask you to help me be a peacemaker. All I have is ultimately yours.
In Jesus’ name,