9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another.Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 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. 20 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.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Paul reminds us in these verses no matter what someone else does to us; we must react with love and kindness. Revenge, payback, or say “one upping” is just not part of the Jesus vinacular. So if a situation or person makes you react unfavorably pray and search for ways to rechannel this negativity to a peaceful outcomes.
Love, rejoice and honor are the chosen reactions that Paul emphasizes through this passage. There is already so much hate and distrust in this world. Love may take more effort, but the peace it facilitates is worth it.
The early Latin writer,
Tertullian of Carthage, declared that the one thing that converted him to Christianity was not the arguments they gave him, because he could find a counterpoint for every argument they would present. “But they demonstrated something I didn’t have. The thing that converted me to Christianity was the way they loved each other.”1
The book of Philippians is my go to book for information on rejoicing in all circumstances. We will be going through the whole book of Philippians in a few weeks. Paul does mention rejoicing here as well. I think of how many times as a disabled person I am learning a new skill and it feels scary, awkward, sometimes embarrassing and just makes me want to strike out in frustration or bitterness. These negative emotions will not only rob me of peace, but also will set those around me to feeling tension and stress. Happiness is a more productive outcome for all involved.
Growing up in Vermont you learn to ski at an early age. One of my instructors told me to just giggle every time I wiped out. To this day…even when it is a particularly hard fall, I will first respond with a laugh that ends up being contagious to others around me.
Ultimately through not only our spiritual gifts, but through all our interactions with others we want to show honor. Taking the love route we will surely show others honor, just by our calm acceptance of them. Sawubona is a Zulu term that I am very fascinated with. It means I accept all of you including your family, your burdens and even those things that may make you feel unwanted. It is my prayer we each can work daily on living out Sawubona with those around us so our Lord and savior will be glorified.
1 – 1000 Illustrations for preaching and teaching p 220