In “The Magnificent Obsession” Anne Graham Lotz said:
“When you get to heaven and for the first time you see Jesus face to face don’t you think you would want something to give Him for all that He has given you? On that day will you have the ashes of a wasted life to press into his nail scarred palm? Or will you have a crown to lay at His nail scarred feet? Nothing I can give Him will be adequate for everything He has done for me. But a crown will be something to give. What happens at the judgment seat of Christ then, is determined by our choices NOW.”
That statement reverberated in my mind when I read Romans 12. After traversing the first 11 chapters, we come to Romans 12 telling us how to apply everything we learned previously. Yes, we are saved by grace, not by our works – Paul made that clear. However, our works should show the evidence of our salvation. There should be something different about us. This is all about the fruit. Is it there? Can anybody see it?
I remember a sermon that my former pastor preached a couple of years ago. He said that oftentimes we look and seek for the unrevealed will of God in our lives. The only way we can find out the unrevealed will of God is to first do those that He has already revealed. These are laid out for us in Romans 12:9-21 aka “How is a Christian supposed to act?”
9Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
14Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
The list is long and daunting – especially the one on blessing those who persecute us, or being patient in tribulation. I almost perked up when I saw “heap coals of fire on his head” (really?) but was a tad disappointed that it did not mean literally. Just kidding.
Oftentimes when we say “I can’t hear from God, I don’t know what He wants me to do,” it’s because we’ve wandered off a different path and we are way off course. It is only when we obey and go back to the right road would we be able to hear His voice.
Are you lost and not hearing from God? Maybe reconsider retracing your steps and think where you heard from God last. What was the last thing you remember Him asking you to do? And then honestly ask yourself: Have I done it? All of it? Or only halfway? Because partial obedience is still disobedience, isn’t it? (By the way, I’m talking to myself here, too, as the Holy Spirit brings things to remembrance.)
In 2009, Chuck Missler came to our church and challenged us to “raise the bar on your personal walk with God.” That challenge really pierced my heart. If we are to take that challenge seriously, to live the holy life and have a higher standard, if we want to lay some crowns at the feet of Jesus, we cannot rely on our own strength and wisdom. The enemy is waiting to just trip us up. We need the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. He is the only one who can help us find our way back.
We don’t have to do it perfectly but we can take the above verses in Romans as our marching orders to live a life that is set apart and holy before God. Oh this Christian walk is hard. But it’s so worth it.
[Reading from Blue Letter Bible – Chronological Plan]