Reading: Romans 12: 17b-21
Verse 17b: Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
In today’s passage Paul encourages us to live a holy life. The model that he looked to was Jesus and that is the model we are called to emulate as well. So let us remember how Jesus lived a holy life – He served all He could, He fed and healed and forgave whenever the opportunity arose, He had time for one and all, and love guided all of His words and actions. This is our goal as Christians: to live Christ-like lives.
Paul begins today’s passage with these words: “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody”. To do right according to everybody means we strive to not offend or to be a stumbling block to anyone. He goes on to encourage us to “live at peace with everyone”. To do this means we avoid things that cause conflict. That means we do not judge or condemn others, we do not gossip or slander others, we do not take advantage of others, we do not envy or covet… Instead we are called to lead with love and grace and mercy.
Paul next addresses a natural tendency we have: do not take revenge. He knows that at times we will be wronged or hurt or taken advantage of. Paul says to let God deal with that. “On the contrary” Paul says – feed your enemy if they are hungry and give them something to drink if they are thirsty. We just need to keep pursuing holy lives. In doing so we will “overcome evil with good”.
Paul’s invitation to holy living is not without its challenges. It requires that we look past race, gender, economic status, sexuality, culture, religion, and any other thing that could be a barrier to loving the other. To do so can be difficult. So we must begin where Jesus began, seeing every person as they are: a dearly loved child of God made in the image of God. When we first see God in others, then it is a natural next step to love and serve them as Jesus did.
All people are dearly loved children of God. May we see each we meet this day as the loved child of God that they are. And may we seek to love them with all we are.