Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ever since Max was a puppy, he and our other dog, Newly, have had a strained relationship. The moment Max catches sight of Newly, he starts growling and barking, carrying on as though he’d like to tear Newly apart if he could. Newly, on the other hand, just ignores Max, choosing to behave as though he doesn’t even exist.

I watched them both with interest the other day as I washed the car. Max took turns running circles around the car and Newly, barking the entire time.

“Max, quit it,” I scolded. He quieted for a moment, then went back to nipping at Newly’s heels.

Fed up, I finally picked Max up and set him in the house. The moment Max was gone, Newly ran up to me and started rubbing his head against my leg, as if to thank me for getting rid of the pest.

And that’s when it occurred to me.

As Christians, we sometimes forget God’s command that we live in peace with one another. We nip and bark, uncaring about the grief our behavior causes the Lord. Worse, we think completely ignoring our brother or sister in Christ is somehow better. We even go to the tragic event of rejoicing silently to ourselves if the person we have a problem with leaves the church.

I wish I could say I have never been guilty of this terrible sin. Unfortunately, living in peace with the brethren is not always easy. That’s why I’m so grateful that I don’t have to attempt it alone.

Romans 12 (New International Version)

Living Sacrifices

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.


9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. 20On 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." 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


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