Day 29

Christian Ethics

from the Romans reading plan

Romans 12:9-21, Amos 5:14-15, Matthew 22:34-39

BY Claire Gibson

Reading Paul’s list of exhortations to the Romans makes me tired. Seriously.

Rid your life of hypocrisy. Love deeply. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence in zeal. Share with the saints. Pursue hospitality. Live at peace with everyone…

With everyone? Really? 

Paul. I need some coffee. And also, when am I supposed to binge-watch my TV shows?

In all honesty, when I compare my life to the lives of the disciples, I begin to see why Paul fills 1 Corinthians 4:6–13 with so much irony. I practically live like a queen compared to Christ’s beloved friends back in the day and compared to much of the world today. Most of my time is spent concerned about how I’ll choose to spend my time. 

I catch myself daydreaming about the life the world tells me I should have: a life with a passionate (never rocky) marriage to my soulmate, a clean and immaculate house, a career that’s advancing, children that are thriving, and plenty of time at the gym maintaining the body of a teenager. To top it off, the world tells me I need to portray this “perfect” life to the world on social media, to attract more followers.

With this world as my guide, adding Paul’s list to the mix is absolutely impossible. There are not enough hours in the day to do both what the world demands of me and what God desires for me. And so I have to choose. 

Every single day I have to choose whom I will serve: my flesh or my God (Romans 12:9). Some days, I make the right choice. Some days I make the wrong one. This is the life of a work in progress, one that God promises to bring to completion in His time.

Perhaps that’s why Paul tells us to “cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). If good was an easy, simple thing to hold onto, why would he tell us to cling to it? I know that in my own life if I’m not clinging to God, the natural inclination of my heart is one of jealousy, coveting, and destructive daydreams. So while it seems like what Paul is cautioning us to do should be obvious, I know it to be oh-so difficult to put into practice. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. I know that If I’m clinging to something, then I’m desperate, grasping. I’m holding on for dear life.

These passages remind me that my very life is at stake and that evil really is evil. Paul pokes at my carefully built life, reminding me that Christ’s path of goodness, stillness, and quietness is the only route to peace. I can rest knowing that the battle is the Lord’s. But I can’t assume that rest and peace will come without effort on my part, without my choosing God. I must cling to Him and let go of everything else. 

Dear Lord, help us to hold on.

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