Weeks 13-14: Hate what is evil; cling to what is good

The first step to problem solving is to define the terms. What is actually being asked?

To practically live out what’s being asked of believers in Romans 12:9, several terms need to be defined (which will be done in the Notes section). I’ve often found that our human definitions are shaped by our own experiences; while there is room for this practice, being fully obedient to God’s Word frequently calls us outside of our personal explanation and into His Truth, which is untainted by the human experience.

This command, like the one prior (“love without hypocrisy”), is straightforward: Do X; do Y = please the Lord. It is also in the same verse (Rom. 12:9) as the prior command. What does sincere love have to do with what you passionately dislike and what you hold tightly? I can’t wait to explore the connections together, as these two weeks crank up, and we continue to transform into the likeness of Christ.

Use the comments section and Notes section to share your thoughts and discoveries. Use these questions to guide your searching and studying:

1. Define these terms according to their biblical definitions (hate, evil, cling, good).
2. How does these commands relate to loving sincerely? How am I supposed to hate something and love sincerely?!
3. What have I deemed “okay” or “acceptable” that God says is evil?
4. Does my definition of “good” conflict with what God says is good (Ps. 84:11)? Do I need to expand my acceptance of God’s version of good?
5. What can I do each day to appropriately turn away from what displeases God and hold tightly to His best?

Weeks 11-12: Love Without Hypocrisy

Rarely are commands from God’s Word so simple: Love sincerely (NIV). Love genuinely (ESV). Don’t just pretend to love others (NLT). Easily said. Not so easily done.

Though these weeks weren’t posted on here (Sorry!), God laid Romans 12:9 on my heart each day (“Let love be without hypocrisy” [NASB]). Situation after situation came up where I was forced to choose whether to speak the truth in love, to lie to cover up an embarrassment or fault, to stay quiet when I wanted to speak, or to love those who I’d rather have a pass on loving. The Holy Spirit kept prompting me: Erin, love without hypocrisy.

People hate hypocrites. The truth is though, that we’re all hypocritical at times. We each exaggerate (or minimize) circumstances, say something to deflect blame or garner praise, etc. It takes lots of INTENTIONAL practice – with the help and grace of the Holy Spirit – to be truthful and loving not just in action but in motive. It’s often easier to appear genuine than it is to actually be genuine. That’s why Paul had to remind us about it. If affairs and murder are judged by the intention of the heart, why wouldn’t love be?

This is more narrative than the other posts, but this one hit home in a different way. I try to be very conscious of what I say to or about people, but it’s easy to get caught up in the moment or to let others rattle on about someone else without defending the “person of topic.” I had a moment like this a few weeks ago, and I spent an entire day concerned that perhaps those comments had been heard by that person or someone else. I retraced the conversation and repented, and I reasoned that what I contributed “could be explained and wasn’t that bad.” True. It could be explained, and I didn’t mean anything maliciously, but God convicted me by placing this question on my heart: What if everything we ever said about people was written down and handed to them? Would God and I be embarrassed or honored by my words if confronted? How much would I need to explain “using context”? If I need to explain it, should it even be said? And if it is, in fact, a truth, shouldn’t I be discussing it with the person himself or herself?

Not to be too tangential, but God does use third parties, and sometimes we must talk through a conversation with another before we actually have it. Often, however, it’s just more “convenient” to talk about someone rather than to them. We are uncomfortable with genuine love; sincere love; love without pretense. Yet, God calls us to go well beyond what’s comfortable, and He calls us to love like He does:  inconveniently; unconditionally; sacrificially; truthfully. We never get a pass on loving.

I want to offer some questions prompted to me the last couple of weeks during this arduous and rewarding journey of loving without hypocrisy. Dig in and love well.

Questions & Suggestions to Consider

1. How often do I self-check my motives toward others and toward situations?
2. Pray that God will reveal your motives to you and change what needs to be changed.
3. Are there specific areas or people where or with whom I struggle being truthful?
4. Am I more likely to engage in gossip or to silently allow it? How can I fix this?
5. What if everything I ever said about someone was written down and handed to them? (See follow-up questions above in the text.)
6. How does God love me?
7. Which facets of love are most challenging to me: speaking truth in love; balancing truth and grace; loving the “unloveable”; unforgiveness; other?

Praying you have the strength, grace, and courage to press on and become more like the One whose set and met the standard. I love you.

Weeks 7-10: Romans 12:4-8 “One Body, Many Members”

Romans 12:4-8 (NKJV)
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:4-8 (NASB)
For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:4-8 (AMP)
For as in one physical body we have many parts (organs, members) and all of these parts do not have the same function or use, so we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another]. Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith; [He whose gift is] practical service, let him give himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teaching; He who exhorts (encourages), to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who gives aid and superintends, with zeal and singleness of mind; he who does acts of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness.

Please use the comments sections to share your thoughts or ask any questions.

Questions to consider when studying this verse:

1) How does this verse relate to any of the previous verses?
2) What are some parallel passages to this verse?
3) Why are these verses important?
4) Reflect on the phrase “do not all have the same function” “each member belongs to all the others,” and “have different gifts.”  Have I accepted these truths, or is there some degree of resistance to the way these truths work out in my life?

Weeks 5-6: Romans 12:3 “Inflated Thinking”

Romans 12:3 > “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

Use the Weekly Notes Google Doc or the comments section to write down some notes and thoughts from studying and living Romans 12:3.

For these weeks, think about the following questions:
1. How does verse 3 relate to verses 1-2?
2. To whom does Paul address this verse? What is significant about that?
3. What are the consequences of “inflated thinking”?
4. How does this human pride interfere with the “gift” or “measure” of faith given to us by God?
5. What is “sober thinking”? (See 1 Peter 1:13, 5:8-9)
a.) Why are Christians called to this standard?
b.) How does this style of thinking relate to verse 2?

Daily Application
1. In what ways (specifically) do I think of myself more highly than I ought?
2. What are some realities about myself that I may not notice (or choose to overlook)? Who can I ask to help me see things I cannot?
3. How can I do better at making an “honest estimate” of myself?
4. How can I learn to value myself based on the faith God has given me? What Scriptural truths align with this reality?
5. Is my “inflated thinking” causing any dissension among my fellow believers? non-believers? What will I do to correct this?

Weeks 3-4: Romans 12:2 “Transformation”

Romans 12:2 > “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Use the Weekly Notes Google Doc or the comments section to write down some notes and thoughts from Romans 12:2.

As usual, use these questions as a guide, if needed.
(a.) what God is teaching you about Himself and His Word,
(b.) what He is teaching you about yourself,
(c.) what He is teaching you about others and how you can live better in community.

How is this truth
(a.) changing the way you see God?
(b.) the way you pray?
(c.) the way you view your daily circumstances?

Weeks 1-2: Romans 12:1 “Living Sacrifices”

Check out the Weekly Schedule for specifics on Weeks 1-2: living as “living sacrifices.”

Use the comment section here to share what you’re learning and living this week.
Some good starting points for sharing are to look for
(a.) what God is teaching you about Himself and His Word,
(b.) what He is teaching you about yourself,
(c.) what He is teaching you about others and how you can live better in community.

Also, how is this truth
(a.) changing the way you see God?
(b.) the way you pray?
(c.) the way you view your daily circumstances?

Here are some of my personal notes for Week 1. Please feel free to use these in your own study. Share on! Praying for you this week.

26_12_52 Intro: Are you a balanced size?

Don’t settle for a measurement taken. Be the measurement lived.
A preoccupation with measurements exists today. We want bigger houses and slimmer electronics. We cram lots of activities into small amounts of time. Women, in particular, strive for “perfectly balanced” body shapes like 36-24-36 or the like. Media and culture have shaped our views so that the external, with its numbers and measurements, drives the way we make decisions, and therefore, the results we get.

I would like to propose three numbers to you that will transform your life: 26, 12, 52. They will transform you vertically and horizontally. What is the relation between these seemingly disconnected numbers? They are part of a study that is steeped in the Truth of God’s Word, and, when lived, they can bring forth godly fruit that remains.

It so happens that 26 qualities of a balanced, healthy Christian can be found in the pragmatic, others-focused chapter of Romans 12. When these qualities are studied and practiced for two weeks at a time, that leads to 52 weeks (that’s a whole year!) of growing in practical truths that will transform your relationship with God (vertically) and man (horizontally).

Join us as we pull up the anchors of unbelief, mediocrity, complacency, fear, and more, and set sail on an ocean of life-changing and life-giving Truth lived out in community.