World English Bible translation
12:10In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate one to another; in honor preferring one another; 12:11 not lagging in diligence; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12:12 rejoicing in hope; enduring in oppression; continuing steadfastly in prayer; 12:13 contributing to the needs of the saints; given to hospitality. 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless, and don't curse. 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Don't set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Don't be wise in your own conceits.
Paul continues with the ethics of the members of the body of Christ. Because we are members of His body, and members of each other, we are to act in a manner that is of the noblest character. Because we honor Christ, we must be honorable men and women. Because I was undeserving of God's grace and mercy, I must strive all the more to be deserving. I can never earn God's love. I never have to earn it because God has given it freely. But, I can strive to be deserving of His love.
Paul tells us to be affectionate with one another and that we are to prefer the company of other believers. Too often Christians live isolated lives where we only come in contact with believers that think as we do. That is not the attitude that Paul is endorsing here. As always, Jesus is our example in this matter. Jesus went out into the crowds and the multitudes but he seemed to prefer to company of the twelve, and even more, the solitude of prayer. The Spirit of God works most effectively on our hearts through the words and deeds of other members of the body of Christ. God can work through a stone and speak from the mouths of donkeys and asses. But, most often, He comes to us through the human touch of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
See what else Paul asks of us. We are to be diligent, fervent and to serve the Lord. We are to rejoice in hope, endure in oppression and to pray steadfastly. We are to be hospitable and to contribute to the needs of those in Christ. All of these attributes are virtuous by any standard of human behavior. They are, then, all the more important for those in the body of Christ. How can the redeemed of God be less virtuous than unbelievers? How can we, who are the temple of the Spirit of God, live lives of less purity than those who are without the life force of God living inside them?
With regard to the unbeliever, we are to bless those who persecute us. We are to bless them and not curse. There was a time in the history of the world where God promised vengeance on those who persecuted His people. The time may well come when such is true again. If so, vengeance will come from the hand of the Lord. For our part, we are only to seek blessing on those that persecute us. When Christ was nailed to the tree, he cried, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Until our persecution exceeds that of the crucifixion of Christ our Lord, we are constrained to do no less than He did.
We are to engage the world. "Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep." We are not allowed to be aloof from the world, waiting for Christ to return by isolating ourselves from the world. Jesus touched people. He touched the leper. He spoke with foreign women and strangers. He ate with sinners and outcasts. He wept at funerals and was moved with compassion. We cannot stand aloof because the very heart of Christ beats within our breast. He is in us and lives through our faith. We must allow Him to live through us.
What blocks us from achieving unity with Christ is our pride. We are too proud to eat with sinners. We are too proud to touch the leper. So, Paul reminds us, "Don't set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Don't be wise in your own conceits." Christ was not so proud that He was not willing to reach out to you when you were a sinner. How can you withhold His touch to others who are in need? Remember, now you are the hands and feet of God in this world. You have been bought with a high price. Now you must be willing to go where He would go and do what He would do. Such is the price of our salvation!
Are you willing to be God's hands, God's feet? Are you willing to present your body and your mind as vessels for God to fill with His presence? Are you willing to allow God to embrace the world with your life?
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