9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. 20 But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. 21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. — Romans 12:9-21
Marks of a Christian
by Trey Powell
What does it mean to be a Christian? How is your life different from the non-believers you interact with on a daily basis?
If you are like me, there will be times when you are tempted to boil down your faith to a list of “don’ts.” You may think you are a Christian if you don’t tell crude jokes, don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, don’t cheat on your spouse, etc. But when you stop to think about it, this line of thinking falls miserably short of what it means to be a born-again Christian.
In today’s passage, Paul makes it abundantly clear that those who have experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ cannot be defined simply by what they don’t do. They must be defined by their good works as well. As the author of James writes, “Faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead” (James 2:17). So what actions should we as believers be known for? Thankfully, Paul provides us with a good start.
We are to love one another genuinely, we are to cling to what is good, and we are to outdo one another in honor. We are to rejoice in hope, be patient in affliction, and be persistent in prayer. As much as possible, we are to live at peace with everyone. While Paul mentions a few things we should not do (like be filled with pride or repay evil for evil), it is clear he is focused on what we should be doing.
As I scan down this list, my thoughts begin to race. Not only does Paul list a multitude of things, but a lot of them are hard are to put into practice. What are we to do? Well, before we become overwhelmed by the immensity of how we are called to live as Christians, we need to remember a few truths we find in Scripture.
- Sanctification is a process. You will grow in each of these as you walk with the Lord.
- You are not in this alone. You have been given the Holy Spirit to empower you and the local church to support you as you seek to live this radical lifestyle.
- There is grace for the times when you fail to live up to these standards.
If we as Christians want to have an attractive and effective witness, if we want to make disciples who make disciples, then maybe we need to realize that our lives should be known just as much for what we do as for what we don’t do.
- Is your faith more defined by what you choose not to do or by what you do?
- How can you more actively live out your faith this week?
- How can you outdo your spouse, your family, or your friends in showing honor today?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.