Yesterday we said that our experience in trials can be an encouragement to others as they face similar trials. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:4-7)
How should we respond to God’s great mercy toward us? We should love one another. “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” (Rom 12:9) We are called to learn to hate what is evil, meaning sin, but love others. This is one of the ways we need to be transformed to see the world through God’s perspective (Romans 12:2).
He continues: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;” (Rom 12:10-11) We’re told to outdo one another in showing honor to each other. He urges us to not become lazy in our enthusiasm to honor to each other, but instead we must be fervent in spirit. The Greek word here is zeontes, which could be translated that we should be set on fire by God’s Spirit in us. Putting our zealous love for each other before ourselves into action is serving our Lord.
As we are serving one another, which serves our Lord, what else are we to be doing? “Rejoicing in hope, [being] patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;” (Rom 12:12) First, we are to declare that we have a reason for joy. It’s a command to have the right perspective on our situation; agreeing with God that our hope is worth rejoicing over. What hope? Paul is referring to the hope of the redemption of our bodies and being united with our Father forever (Rom 8:23-24).
Thirdly (no you didn’t miss the second one; I’m going out of order), we are to continue “steadfastly in prayer”. Prayer brings a connection with our Father through the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26-27). He hears, understands, and helps in response to even our clumsiest attempts to communicate with Him. We are to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess 5:16-18)
Now back to the second, we are to be patient in tribulation or affliction. This becomes much easier if we “rejoice in hope” and “continue steadfastly in prayer”. Those who see their future worth celebrating and who pray to the Father continually will have a much easier time being patient during hardship. Paul isn’t downplaying the genuine pain of those experiences, yet he points out that the struggles of life on earth are not worth comparing with the glory to come (Rom 8:18). So, we wait with patience (Rom 8:25).
And he finishes his thought with “contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality” (Rom 12:13). We are to love without hypocrisy, be kindly affectionate to each other, zealously honoring each other above ourselves, rejoicing in hope, being patient in trials, and pray without ceasing. If we are loving each other in this manner, while staying in constant communication with God, then we naturally see others from God’s point of view. We will see ways we can help others in their need and welcome others to our homes in service to the Lord; sharing with others the blessings we have received.
Father, thank You for showing me how You want me to share Your love with others, as I stay on the vine and am able to rejoice in hope no matter the circumstances. Lord, the truth is that this world will pass away, and my eternity with You is secure. That’s my hope, that’s my joy. May that hope and joy be visible to others today, so that Your light and love shine through me. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.