Scripture Notes on Romans 12
The Bible says that “the disciples [of Jesus] were first called ‘Christians’ at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26) The word “Christians” means both “followers of Christ” and “those identified by Christ.” The idea is that as people saw how these disciples lived their lives, it was evident that they belonged to Jesus not by what they said they believed, but what they showed by their actions.
With that in mind, consider Paul’s instructions to the Christians in Rome about how their lives should look and ask yourself two questions: 1) Is this what Jesus’ life on earth looked like, and 2) is this what my life is increasingly becoming?
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.
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.
Do you see it? Do you see the portrait of Jesus in this passage? Do you see Him loving by sacrificing Himself? Do you see Him serving by healing all who came to Him? Do you see Him showing honor to His disciples by washing their feet in the upper room? Do you see Him weeping with Mary and Martha at the death of their brother Lazarus and rejoicing with them as He raises His friend from the dead? Do you see Jesus blessing His tormenters from the cross, praying “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”?
Now, do you see these qualities in you?
Here’s the thing. The Christian life is not about trying to behave in a certain way so we’re “good enough” for God. It’s about living out of the overflow of a heart transformed by God’s grace to us in Christ.
These things Paul speaks of aren’t a list of instructions to follow, but a list of indicators of the true state of your heart. To be a Christian is much less about your behavior and much more about your motivation. It’s less about what you do, and more about what you truly desire.
So, as you examine your life, ask yourself the hard question, “Am I truly becoming more like Jesus because I want to, or am I just trying to keep the rules?” Don’t skip by with an assumed response, because your answer to that question has profound implications for your life.
As you see your choices becoming more like Christ, as you see your heart truly desiring to love like His, rejoice! This is the surest and most joyful sign that your salvation is genuine and that your life has been truly made new, because true Christians look like Jesus.