I read these passages last night before bed in the NIV and as always was challenged…I looked them up in The Message this morning and it was still challenging but I was blessed by the language.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity. God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil, hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply, practice playing second fiddle.
Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times, pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they are happy; share tears when they are down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck up. Make friends with nobodies, don’t be the great somebody.
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
Our scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”
If that is not the nuts and bolts of living a Christ-like life…I don’t know what is…we have an ordinary life that when we are determined to offer all of it to the Lord it becomes anything but ordinary. The best part is that these verses are not just wishful thinking or a “pie in the sky” ideal…God would have not inspired Paul’s writing if this type of life was not possible to live out or if our heart could not be rendered like His. Isn’t that encouraging?!
My challenge for all of us is to reflect on these verses in whatever version you prefer and pick out a verse that you feel God wants to work more fully in your life and pray it forth in your life…it’s God’s word so it is definitely His will for each of us.
Write the verse out…maybe in your journal or on an index card…
Now put it in the form of a question…
For example, I will expose myself to you…I would pick as one of the many verses that spoke to me…”Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” I will ask myself…Am I a good friend….do I love deeply…what does it look like to love deeply…show me Lord how I can love others deeper…who aren’t I loving deeply…where in my life do I want to be top banana…how can I practice humility in my relationships….and so on…
Seek God with an open heart and He will tell you and show you how He desires you to live…and without condemnation…but with deep and abiding grace…He longs for us to ask so that He can show us and when we are willing He will show us the most excellent way!
Grace and peace to you today,