Behave Like a Christian

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 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; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore

 “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
  If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
  For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

—Romans 12:9-21

The New King James Version titles these verses “Behave Like a Christian.” Can you imagine what kind of world we would be living in if all Christians actually followed these words? Too many Christians are hypocrites, and they all too often follow evil. Think of the number of people who call themselves Christians who have more love for their guns than they do for the safety of our children. Then there are those who love to hate. They fill their heart with hate and claim they are opposing evil by hating what they perceive is evil, even when it’s their own prejudices that cause them to hate.

God tells us to let love radiate from us in all things. We are not to take love, but to genuinely show love for all living things. We are supposed to run away from evil and hold on for dear life to what is good. We should be good friends to others and love them deeply. We also should not be front and center, but do good from the background. We need to be humble in our actions. Romans 6:5-7 says, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

We also need to do things in moderation. If we try to do too much, we will burn ourselves out, but our faith can keep ourselves fueled and renewed. We need to be forever diligent servants of God and spread the love that he represents. There will be hard times. Times when it will feel very difficult for us to love, especially to show love and compassion for those who are doing awful things. However, we can’t quit in hard times; we must pray even harder for God’s guidance. We need to show compassion and help the needy. Maybe we aren’t flush with cash, but there are other ways to help than with money. Maybe you have some clothes that no longer fit. Instead of throwing them out, give them to a charity or to someone you know in need.

It’s difficult to pray for your enemies and especially to pray for those who hate us, but the best thing to do is to pray that they will find God and be embraced by His love so that they will change their ways. I know it’s easy to just curse them under your breath, or sometimes to the top of you lungs, but we need to pray for them. We have to live by example, not lower ourselves to their level. Former first lady Michelle Obama has been quoted as saying “When they go low, we go high.” She has urged Democrats to remain civil when facing Republican slights. Still easy to fight back against against the lack of civility on the part of some Republicans. “Fear is not – it’s not a proper motivator. Hope wins out,” Obama said. “And if you think about how you want your kids to be raised, how you want them to think about life and their opportunities, do you want them afraid of their neighbors? Do you want them angry? Do you want them vengeful? We want them to grow up with promise and hope. And we can’t model something different if we want them to be better than that.”

When it comes to our friends, we should feel and show great joy and delight when our friends are happy, and shed tears and commiserate with them when they are sad and lonely. That goes beyond just our friends, but even strangers that we come across. You never know when you’ll make a new friend. That can be especially hard for those of us who are shy, but sometimes, all we need to do is offer a smile, hold a door for someone, let someone over when stuck in traffic. There are so many things we can do that can make someone’s day just a little brighter. Try to get along with everybody you meet, and not judge a book by it’s cover.

God tell us that if we see our enemy hungry, go buy that person food, or if he’s thirsty, get them something to drink. Our generosity will surprise them with our goodness. It might even make them see what they can do to be a better person. We can’t let evil get the best of us; instead, we should get the best of evil by doing good. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus sums up the core criteria for being a good Christian (or more generally, a good person). In Matthew 7:12, Jesus said, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Known as the Golden Rule, the common English phrasing is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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