Christ says, “Want to be like Me? Then…” As His disciples, we walk with Him and learn to be just like Him.
17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
18 There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.
Paul gives the Romans a pretty specific picture in Romans 12 of how to be like Christ in culture. He begins with our goal:
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 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.
He then moves to stating how to show Christ and be Christ to others in their culture. It’s interesting that his strategy works well in our culture, too! Here’s how we can let the light of Christ shine through us:
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Compassion might be a better term for us. It’s seeing people through God’s eyes: Deceived, dying/dead, and in need of the Savior.
10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. The NIV says, “Honor one another above yourselves.” Easy to say, hard to do. It takes dying to ourselves each day–sometimes many times a day–to achieve this goal. We must allow Christ to love through us. Those around us are blessed and we get the benefit of having and feeling His love flow through us!
11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Laziness is selfishness. See Proverbs 18 7-18-20
12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. These commands are imperative action verbs. We are to do them continuously.
13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Let’s look for opportunities to help with our hands, with resources, with a listening ear; let’s be available with our time, our talents, our finances, and our hearts.
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Here’s where compassion comes in. See them through God’s eyes. We knew persecution was coming when we signed up-if not, then someone didn’t share with you the whole truth!
15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Let’s be sensitive to others. Why are they happy? Rejoice with them. Why do they weep? Feel their pain; encourage them; instruct and correct if necessary, but in time. Grief is a process. Don’t rush it.
16 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! Wow! I think the LORD knows us all too well! Humility is taking the lower seat at the banquet table. See Luke 14:8-11.
17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. This command is Christianity 401. It’s the most difficult one and also the most public one. We can die fulfilling this command! It is the most graphic way to show Christ to an unbelieving world.
18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. We are to ingratiate ourselves with everyone we meet, especially those who live around us, but always in a truthful and Christ-honoring way. “Peace at all costs” is NOT biblical. HIS peace at HIS cost is.
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Deuteronomy 32:35 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Proverbs 25:21-22 Reiterated and amplified from verse 14.
21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. We could easily have begun with this verse. It sums up the entire passage and our entire daily life. We conquer evil in this world by being obedient to the Holy Spirit and responding in love. We may lose possessions, money, jobs, and even our lives, but God uses our testimony to reach the hearts of unbelievers. Do you REALLY want to be like Christ? He gave His life so that we could be united with the Father. We must be willing to do the same.
FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST
Abba, I take my own words and apply them to my life. May I be willing to live each moment crucified to myself and living for You. May I always be on the lookout for ways to promote You to the world around me. Give me opportunities to be You to others, both in Your family and in the world. Whatever it takes, LORD. For Your sake. Amen.