I finished up the devotional I was reading over the last month, or so, and began reading straight from my Bible again. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover a few times, so I wasn’t really sure where to resume reading, but finally decided on book of Romans.
Paul’s letter to the church at Rome is pretty straightforward. He briefly greets the church and then jumps right into discussing the divinity of Christ, the grace–and life–we’ve received through His death and resurrection, and the commission we’ve received to encourage obedience to the faith and make disciples (Romans 1:4-5, 16).
Paul goes on to share how God has revealed Himself to mankind through His handiwork, or creation, and we have no excuse not to show the honor and glory due Him. Yet, there were those who “claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves]” (Romans 1:22, AMP). And here is were I began getting a little highlighter crazy within this chapter, because I could see so much of this taking place in our current culture.
And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome, until they were filled with every kind of unrighteousness, iniquity, grasping and covetous greed, and malice. [They were] full of envy and jealousy, murder, strife, deceit and treachery, ill will and cruel ways. [They were] secret backbiters and gossipers, slanderers, hateful to and hating God, full of insolence, arrogance, [and] boasting; inventors of new forms of evil, disobedient and undutiful to parents. [They were] without understanding, conscienceless and faithless, heartless and loveless [and] merciless. Though they are fully aware of God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them themselves but approve and applaud others who practice them.Romans 1:28-32, AMP
So, if you’re like me, you instantly recognize this happening right now. Personally, I find it to be disheartening, frustrating, and often incredibly angering. But then I got to chapter two…
Here, Paul begins correcting the church because they judged those who weren’t walking with the Lord, while they, themselves, behaved in a similar manner; and I immediately thought about how easy it is to allow hatred into our hearts, or to malign those who steal, kill, and destroy. However, hatred, malice, and acting upon anger, are also SIN! God’s kindness should lead us to repentance and soften our hearts for the lost, because it’s His will that none be lost; and if we consider ourselves believers, we must act in accordance with His will (Romans 2:4).
We cannot claim to walk in the light, and/or be teachers of the Word, if we act, and react, in the same manner as the world–with bitterness, cursing, contempt, name-calling, backbiting, etc. How often, do we see, or hear a fellow believer (or even ourselves!) speaking harshly, calling another individual a nasty name, or wishing others harm or ill? Brothers and sisters, this SHOULD NOT BE. Our hearts should be full of love and we should speak in gentleness. As James 3:10-12 (ESV) says, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” The world already fears and despises being exposed to the light, let’s not give them other reasons to be turned off to the Truth found in the Gospel.
My prayer is that God continue to soften our hearts for the lost, and that we seek His face and His Kingdom, before all else. And may we season our speech with the salt of love and grace, that it may be palatable, yet full of Truth, to those we come into contact with each day. Love and peace to you all, take care, and have a great week!