Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Question: do our Christian lists of do’s and don’ts reflect this passage? Do those lists look like the love in this? Or, like the Pharisees, have we overstepped the principles given to add legalistic requirements for fellowship with fellow Christians? Are these ‘requirements’ a hindrance to the gospel by setting up in the minds of believers and non-believers alike a set of behaviors that have become an expectation for entrance into the Christian walk? Is the unbelieving world justified in some of their criticisms concerning the believer? In so doing have we become exclusionary, braggarts, judgmental, and harsh? All opposite of what is written here! Has the rest of humanity adopted this same list to judge us by? In so doing, have we distorted the truth in the message of the gospel and given reasons for avoidance of association with messengers of the gospel?
Perhaps we should check our personal and corporate creeds to evaluate if they include the following:
1. sincere love
2. devotion to one another
3. brotherly love
4. honoring one another above ourselves
5. zeal – for the gospel, not for changing others
6. spiritual fervor – focused on the Lord who does the work of change
7. serving the Lord
13. caring for one another as the need arises
15. bless rather than curse
20. allow God to avenge any wrongs
Wow! not much room for the list of don’t drink, smoke, cuss or associate with those who do! The focus is on the good not the evil. Are we looking at the white elephant? or are we focused on the underlying principles that will allow the Spirit of God to dictate what is right behavior and wrong behavior for the individual? Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.