”Love must be sincere.
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:9-21 NIV (http://bible.com/111/rom.12.9-21.NIV)
Really??? Does God expect us to be all that? Well, the short answer is yes. The human answer has to be no, because we are flawed and fallen beings who are incapable of having the sincere, loving existence God originally planned for us. (Thank you, Adam and Eve!)
God gave us each free will so that we all individually responsible for our decisions, good, bad, and ugly. I could go line by line and point out every verse that I have ignored or broken in order to have my own way. As I move through life and it’s myriad of interactions, I am discovering that there actually is some wisdom in these words. What a shocker!
While I was growing up, my Grandma and Mom would say things like “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Not my thing. I preferred sarcasm and barbed words to kindness. Judging people. Revenge…. oh, yes. Gossip was the rule instead of the exception, and you know what? Being all that didn’t bring me any peace or satisfaction, ever. Smiling and thanking someone who is being hateful or in your face really throws them off.
I find that the more I strive to emulate Paul’s words and Jesus’ commands, the more peaceful and stress less (is that even a word??? 😎) my life becomes. I still don’t get everything I want, and people are still rude and thoughtless, and sometimes just plain mean. It’s always my choice on whether I react, or respond, just as it is yours. We don’t know what is going on in that person’s life when they do things we don’t want to deal with, just as they have no idea what is going on in ours.
Choice. It can be incredibly freeing, or you can tie yourself up in your misery and take it out on everyone else. Blessings come when we are thankful!