One of the benefits of going through the Bible verse by verse is for us to understand the context of each passage. This helps us avoid the mistake of taking a section of Scripture out of context and make it a pretext for something that God never intended to say.
Romans 13 is a great example of why context is important. This past Sunday, we began our study of the first seven verses of this chapter by carefully considering what the Apostle Paul had written just before and just after these verses so we can accurately understand the text.
Watch our study in Romans 13:1-7 as we considered this passage in context to better understand the specific roles and responsibilities the family, the church, and the government have in a healthy society.
There is so much wisdom in meeting someone right where they are because you genuinely care about them and what they are going through. When you communicate that they are important and that you care about them, you’ll find that you’ll be able to better serve them and bring them closer to leading them to the Lord.
But too often, we are guilty of trying to evangelize someone without getting to know them or demonstrating that we genuinely care about what they are enduring. Many times, we’re waiting for them to stop talking so that we can share our great wisdom with them without actually getting to know them without hearing what is on their heart.
Remember that Jesus loves that person just as much as He loves you—which means that He cares about what that person is going through just as much as He cares about what you are going through. So listen. Actually listen. Don’t just wait until their done talking so that you can share your wisdom. Actively listen and ask thoughtful questions. Draw them out. Communicate to them that you actually care about them. Love them as Jesus loves you.
“…as much as depends on you…”
“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible as much as depends on you live peaceably with all men.”
It is important to do what is right in the sight of all men. And it is important to live peaceably with all men. But sometimes that is not possible. There are those in your life (maybe even now) where it wouldn’t be wise to do what is right in their sight. There are those in your life (maybe even now) where it is not possible to live peaceably with them, and you wouldn’t be a wise steward of your time to continue to try.
Paul knew that these circumstances would hopefully be rare, but the encouragement is true. There is an exhortation to do as much as depends on you to live peaceably with all people. But there is also a release, for there comes a time where you have to admit that you have done as much as depends on you and it is just not possible—for whatever reason—to live peaceably with that person.
That doesn’t mean that you are released to be mean, or that you retaliate or reciprocate hate. It just means that we are not going to be able to live at peace with all people. It’s a reality of life. Some people are always going to be angry or negative or toxic or vengeful or rude. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be.
Remember, this section of scripture instructs us on how to be a good friend to those who treat us poorly. We are to walk wisely and live kindly. We must not retaliate or reciprocate. We leave that up to the Lord (see Romans 12:19). We just get to love like Jesus loves and simply serve.
Though Romans 12:9-21 is only thirteen verses, it contains approximately thirty practical ways that we can practice being the kind of friend that Jesus has been to us.
At the heart of this passage is Jesus. It’s only through His demonstration of love to us that we are able to learn how to love others, even when we feel we have every right and reason to hate. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
With the love of Christ, we can bless our enemies and love those who treat us poorly. In this second portion of Romans 12, the Apostle Paul encourages us to love our enemies with the courage available to us in Christ and reminds us of our purpose to lead our enemies to Jesus.
Watch our study of Romans 12:15-21 and learn how we can overcome evil with good through the love of Jesus.
“Bless those who persecute you…”
If we want to impact the people in the culture around us, it will not be accomplished by shouting louder, reciprocating ridicule, or overcoming evil with more evil.
It will happen by loving others the way that Jesus would love them.
How do we love others the way Jesus loves them? We consider Him. We think constantly of Him. If we are going to be persecuted for being followers of Jesus, it would be appropriate for us to continue to be followers of Jesus in our response to persecution. How will cursing those who persecute us differentiate ourselves as followers of Jesus from those who do not follow Jesus? It will not. How will hatred draw anyone to Jesus? It does not.
So we consider Jesus, “who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself so that we will not grow weary so that we will not lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:3) We think constantly of Him enduring all that sinful men could say against him so that we will not lose our purpose or our courage to love our enemies.
This doesn’t mean that we turn into doormats. We do not need to compromise our convictions in order to be a good friend to the world. Remember—being a good friend to the world, not of the world, means that we are genuine and honest, while at the same time kind always ready to give an answer for the hope that we have with gentleness and respect.
It takes a seriously secure person to love an enemy in this way—to pray for your persecutors while they are persecuting you. To bless when it’s so much easier to curse. It takes receiving the love of Jesus to show the love of Jesus.
Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” This past Sunday, we spent our time in God’s word studying this one verse—and what a verse it is!
The command to bless our persecutors is counterintuitive, and yet this is how Christianity has made the most genuine impact in the world. The practice of loving when you feel like you have every right and reason to retaliate can only be accomplished with the same love that Jesus has for us and demonstrated to us.
But the ability to bless instead of curse does not come naturally. It takes time to develop and learn at the feet of Jesus as we pay attention to how He loves us so that we can live and love this way for others.
Watch our study of Romans 12:14 and learn what it looks like to be a good friend to those to treat you like an enemy.
Be a good friend (like Jesus)
Romans 12:9-13 is loaded with applications for how we are to be the kind of friend to others that Jesus is to us. Because Jesus is genuine, honest, and loyal to us, we ought to be the same to others.
Jesus is genuine. What you see is what you get. He never sends sideways messages. We never have to read between the lines and wonder what He really meant.
Jesus is honest. He is the real deal. He never shrinks back from telling us the truth, even if it’s a tough truth to tell.
Jesus is loyal. He lets us know that He isn’t going anywhere and we can depend on Him sticking around. He knows everything about us—and at the same time assures us that He will never leave us or forsake us.
Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus! And because we experience His friendship, we want to be this kind of friend to those around us.
Being a good friend who is genuine doesn’t mean that you always agree with or that you always affirm others actions or behaviors. It means you tell your friend the truth while also communicating loyalty and commitment, letting them know that you’re not going to leave or shun them.
This doesn’t come easily. It takes diligence. It takes intention. It takes practice. It takes the Holy Spirit in us to love others the way Jesus loves us. Because, if we’re honest, people are mean and self-centered. People don’t often reciprocate or even appreciate this kind of genuine, honest, loyal friendship. People are flawed and hurt—and hurt people hurt people.
People like this need friends like Jesus: genuine, honest, and loyal. So be to others what Jesus is to you—a good friend!
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends
Strengthened by grace is the Bible Teaching ministry of Pastor Dominic Dinger.
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