Marks of a True Christian
Francis Schaeffer once asked a question: “How then shall we live?”
Many times, we read God’s Word but have a hard time applying it to our lives or living out the practicality of it. While asking the above question, I decided to actually look up the meaning of the key words in Romans 12:9-21. This passage of Scripture left no doubt in my mind as to how we should live . . . as Christians and overcomers.
As you well know from 2020, things in our lives and the world can change in the blink of an eye – good turning to evil, truth turning to lies, love turning to hate, peace turning to violence, life turning to death.
“How then shall we live?” How do we overcome?
Romans 12:9-21 (ESV)
“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, and 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. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
A look at the key words in this passage of Scripture will give us insight into how to live and overcome.
“Be genuine” – (authentic and sincere)
“Do good” – (be useful, adhering to or fulfilling moral virtues, which leads to respect)
“Love” (agape) – (sacrificially, purely, and willfully desiring another’s good ahead of your own)
“Be brotherly” – (show affection, kindness, and gentleness and concern for another)
“Show honor” – (high respect and great esteem)
“Don’t be slothful” – (lazy)
“Have zeal” – (doing all you do to the glory of God with energy and enthusiasm)
“Be fervent” – (which is displaying or having passionate intensity in serving the Lord)
“Serve” – (to attend to or to provide for the needs of another)
“Rejoice” – (to show or cause great joy or delight)
“Be a person of hope” – (help save someone by giving them grounds for believing and trusting God)
“Be patient” – (suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious, able to accept or tolerate delays when problems and great troubles or tribulation arise)
“To be constant” – (unchanging, faithful, dependable in prayer, seeking God first)
“Show hospitality” – (to be kind, friendly, and generous in serving others, guests, visitors and even strangers)
“To bless someone” – (to ask God to look favorably on another to praise and express gratitude. Even when they have persecuted you, shown hostility, or harassed you because of race, political or religious beliefs)
“Do not curse” – (saying something that can cause harm or misery, using an offensive word or phrase to express anger or annoyance)
“To weep” – (to show or express with tears, to mourn)
“Be in harmony with one another” – (agreement or accord which produces sweet life music together)
“Do not be haughty” – (arrogant, superior, disdainful, showing contempt or lack of respect)
“Be lowly” – (simple and humble)
“Be wise” – (having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgment, responding sensibly and being alert)
“Be peaceable” – (inclined to avoid argument or conflict)
“Do not avenge or participate in wrath or vengeance” – (to inflict harm in return for a wrong done to oneself or another or to participate in extreme anger or retribution)
“Be an overcomer” – (to defeat and prevail over sin and evil by overcoming it with good)
The key to the question, “How then shall we live?” is found in the last statement in verse 21.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
How do we do that? The first two verses of that same chapter in Romans 9 tells us:
“I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 9:1-2 ESV)
We cannot be or do any of the things written in this passage of Scripture without the enabling and surrendering of our lives daily to the Holy Spirit.
Being a Christian is not a religion; it is a relationship with our Father God, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
If you want to know how God wants you to live and be an overcomer, look no further; the answers are in His Word.
“Father God, help us to live as overcomers, as those who reflect who You truly are. We present ourselves and this year to You as a living sacrifice. We ask that You transform and renew our minds so that we might know what Your will is and what is good and acceptable to You. We love You so much! Thank You, thank You for who You are in our lives, the Overcomer and Enabler. Amen”
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Kathy Niswender is the wife of our pastor.