Romans 12:9-13 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Read This section of verses are some of my favorites in the whole Bible. It shows that Christianity is a radical faith. It is not for the weak of heart and the fickle of mind. But these verses sound exhausting: hold fast, outdo, be fervent, rejoice, be patient, be constant, etc.. As sinful humans, how can we accomplish all of this?
This past summer, I went on a month long mission trip to South Africa. I had been on a similar trip, but this summer was different. I believe I grew more, genuinely helped others more, and made a more significant impact. I did a lot of the same things on both trips: playing with kids, hanging out with local high school students, teaching, etc.. But something was different. It was my heart and attitude.
One day stands out in particular. We were split into groups to visit local communities to invite kids to our program the following week. My group walked along a quiet road, talking and looking for people available to talk. On our left, we spotted a small village-esque neighborhood. We had to cross a stream and hike up a trail to get there and when we finally arrived, we found a group of children playing soccer in the dirt. Small houses were staggered on the hill. The kids immediately let us join in on their game and one of their moms came out to watch. I started chatting with her and she took me inside her house to show me some CDs she’d made. It felt so easy, so natural. On my last trip, I was constantly worried about what I was saying, what I was doing. But on that day, I just was. I played with the kids without worrying about my poor soccer skills. I talked to the woman and listened to her story without worrying about what to say next. I could tell some of my teammates felt like I once had, uncomfortable and a little awkward. But that was no longer a burden to me.
I think my experience in South Africa is similar to how we should approach these verses. On that day in the small village, I let go of any fears or worries and simply focused on the people around me. And after I did that, God really used me and shone through me. He still used me on my other trip, but He couldn’t shine quite as brightly through the gunk in my heart. These verses are all about loving others and holding on to righteousness. When we set our eyes on the cross and our arms around others, we can truly serve.
Ponder What in your heart is holding you back from genuinely serving and loving others?