FROM THE SERVANT GENERALNovember
BEING ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD
Our relationship with each other has to do with our relationship with God. This is important to understand,
because it is easy enough to know that we should do right by God, but we often do wrong to others. But as Jesus commanded,
we are to love God and our neighbor, and the two go together. If we say we love God but we hate our brother, then we are liars.
today’s reading, Paul expounds on the reality of such interrelationship.
First, Paul emphasizes who we are and
what our proper relationship to God is, as this is the starting point. “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies
for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we
are the Lord’s.” (Rom 14:7-8). Jesus has purchased us on the cross by the shedding of his precious
blood. We now belong to him.
Next, Paul connects this reality of belonging to God to our relationship with our
brethren. “Why then do you judge your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother?” (Rom 14:10). If
we belong to God, then we are to reflect His image and likeness, we are to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, we are to live
in the Spirit. As such, those who belong to God deserve respect and love. Thus we are to love others as Jesus has loved them.
No matter how bad they might be, we are not to look down on them, because they too are made in the image and likeness of God,
they too are loved by Him, they too were saved by Jesus on the cross.
In loving our brethren, we are not to judge them.
Does this mean we can never make a judgment on the wrongness of an action? No. We do recognize sin and wrongdoing. We have
the commandments to guide us in this. However, it means not judging their heart in the things they do. If they do wrong, we
certainly can recognize that objective reality, but we do not impute motives. We condemn the sin but not the sinner. We hate
the sin but love the sinner.
How about justice? We are to leave judgment to God. Only God truly knows what is in the
hearts of everyone. And God indeed is a God of justice and righteousness. Sin will be punished, and virtue will be rewarded.
“For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Rom 14:10c).
“So then each of us
shall give an account of himself to God.” (Rom 14:12). We stand before God responsible for our own actions, or for our
inaction. In the end, God will hold us accountable for how we have loved.
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FROM THE SERVANT GENERALNovember 4,
LOVE FULFILLS THE LAW
We are called to love one another. This is the bottom line in human relationships. Paul in today’s reading
continues to teach us about love. “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another
has fulfilled the law.” (Rom 13:8).
The law refers to the commandments
of God. And Paul says that “the commandments ... are summed up in this saying, namely ‘You shall love your
neighbor as yourself.’” (Rom 13:9). Love fulfills the law, that is, when love directs one’s moral decisions,
then the intent of the law, which is the good of people, is fulfilled.
The law is concerned about right marriage and
family relationships, about respect for the sanctity of life, about
security of property (Note: First World nations are now assaulting such rights and using law to enforce their distorted positions).
If one truly loves, then one desires the best for the other. If one truly loves, then the purpose
of the law is fulfilled. “Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Jesus’ commandment is that we love our neighbor as we love
ourselves. So a good way of examining if we are loving is to look at how we ourselves would like to experience love from others.
Think about what hurts us; then resolve not to do such. Consider what we would not like to happen to us; then do not do such
Do you want to be the object of destructive gossip? Do you want to be maligned? Do you want lies to be told
about you? Do you want to be deprived of what is rightfully yours? The obvious answer is NO. Then do not do the same to others.
In sum, do no evil to your neighbor. In a word, love.
Another word for loving our neighbor is justice, which interestingly
is associated with “law.” Justice is giving to the other person what is his due, or not depriving one of what
rightfully belongs to him.
If we love others, if we practice justice, if we do unto others what we want done to us,
then we will be blessed. Today’s reading of Psalm 112 tells us about the blessings of the just. “All goes well
for those ... who conduct their affairs with justice.” (Ps 112:5).
These blessings include family and children
(Ps 112:2), prosperity (Ps 112:3), security (Ps 112:6), not being afraid (Ps 112:7-8), honor (Ps 112:9), and virtues (Ps 112:4).
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LOVING ONE ANOTHERNovember 3, 2009
“love one another with mutual affection”
Love is the hallmark of a Christian. God calls all Christians to love. If we do not
love, then we are not being Christian. But what does it really mean to love? Everyone talks about love, but not everyone really
knows what true love is.
Today’s reading from Romans (Rom 12:5-16) gives us a lot to consider.
basic consideration is that we are all parts of the one body of Christ. The reality is that “we, though many, are one
body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” (Rom 12:5). Now notice what Paul says: we are parts of one another.
We are not only the different parts of the one body of Christ, but we are parts of one another. We are all intimately interconnected
with each other.
Second, as the one body of Christ that God intends to use for His purposes in the world, we have all
been given gifts with which to serve. These gifts are different, but taken all together, provide a full resource that can
truly be effective in doing God’s work. Thus, “since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to
us, let us exercise them” (Rom 12:6a).
Thus, in who we are and in what we are called to do, we are one. The binding
force is love.
Paul then talks about love. He gives very practical aspects of what it means to love (Rom 12:5-16).
Let us look at some of these.
First, love has to do with our righteousness as a child
of God. Sincere love has to do with choosing good over evil. “Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on
to what is good” (Rom 12:9). If one persists in wrongdoing, then one does not love.
Second, love has to do with
our relationship with our brethren in community. We not only avoid doing wrong to our brethren, but we are to “anticipate
one another in showing honor.” (Rom 12:10b). Further, we empathize with the situation of our brethren. After all, we
are parts of one another, so that whatever happens to our brethren also happens to us. As such, we “rejoice with those
who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Rom 12:15).
has to do with our relationship with our so-called “enemies.” Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Practically,
Paul expounds on this. We are to “bless those who persecute (us), bless and do not curse them.” (Rom 12:14). We are not to “repay anyone evil for evil” (Rom 12:17a). We “do not look for revenge” but leave it up to God to exact
justice (Rom 12:19). Very difficult, but that is what love means. In fact,
it goes even further. We are challenged: “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to
drink” (Rom 12:20a).
Fourth, love has to do with enduring
and persevering with joy. “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” (Rom 12:12). There will always be trials and crosses in life. We may face situations of hopelessness.
We will be afflicted. In all these, we trust in Jesus, remain committed to a deep personal
relationship with God, and maintain our joy in Christ whatever our circumstances in life.
Finally, love has
to do with serving God who is love and serving others by becoming instruments of God’s love for the world. “Do
not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Rom 12:11).
We must be zealous in proclaiming the good news of salvation in Jesus. We must be keen to serve God by serving others.
is defined by different people in different ways, and thus is often misunderstood. Love is a very difficult posture, even
for a Christian who has already experienced the love of God. Love is challenging,
as it involves all that we are, reaching deep down into our innermost being. Love touches all of our relationships--with God,
with Christian brethren, and with everyone else.
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