In Paul’s list of marks of a true Christian in Romans 12:9-21, I thought it interesting how it compliments what Jesus said to the religious leaders in Mark 12. In attempting to trip Jesus up, the religious leaders ask Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment? Jesus replies by saying, “The Lord our God is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is this, love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:28-31)
In Romans 12:9-10, 16 Paul tells us as followers of Christ to:
- “Let love be genuine.” (Romans 12:9 )
- “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10 )
- “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own eyes.” (Romans 12:16)
The religious leader were definitely “wise in their own eyes.” They knew the scripture intellectually, but somehow they missed the heart of it. Interesting that Jesus says of them, “You know neither the scripture nor the power of God…” (Mark 12:24) I don’t want that to be said of me!
Back in chapter 2 of Romans Paul said, “It’s not the hearers of the law that are righteous before God, but those who do what it says.” (Rom 2:13). James also said, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” (James 1:22-24)
Interesting that, as the religious leaders agreed with Jesus about the greatest commandment, Jesus says, “You are not far from the kingdom.” (Mark 12:34) They were about 18 inches away. The distance from their head to their heart!
As we begin our orientation classes this week, this is something that is heavy on my heart. The biggest issue we continue to have on the mission field is relationship problems. We have missionaries who have a head full of knowledge, they are all wise in their own eyes, but somehow that knowledge often doesn’t reach their hearts when it comes to how they relate to one another. We are going to be challenging these new missionaries to be humble (not haughty (Rom 12:16)), smart with people (live in harmony with one another (Rom 12:16)) and hungry (Rom 12:10 outdo one another in showing the love of Christ)
- God desires unity / living in harmony (Rom 12:16) This will only come as I follow the greatest command, loving God first, and loving others because He first loved me. (1 John 4:7-8, 19)
- The religious leaders’ pride lead them to the place where they were wise in their own eyes, but Jesus declared, “you know neither the scripture nor the power of God.” I don’t want that to be said of me. I want to be a doer of the word, not just filled with knowledge. (James 1:22-24, Romans 2:13)
- DL Moody said, “God’s word is not meant to just fill our heads with knowledge, but to change our lives!” I want to be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Rom 12:1-2) through the washing of the Word (Eph 5:25-27). I want the same for my students.