“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So, if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Romans 12:4-21 (NLT)
This morning when I woke up it was still dark—not because I woke up that early, but because it was about to storm. I made my way to the coffee pot to get my day started. I stopped in my office long enough to unplug my laptop. With the ominous clouds and the low rumble of distant thunder, a lightning strike seemed likely.
I got my coffee started and as I waited for my morning cup of coffee, I started thinking about the electrical power that comes into my home. I thought of how much I enjoy that power and how disjointed my life becomes when the current stops flowing. Earlier this summer, lightening struck the transformer in my neighborhood. My home was without power for almost 6 hours.
I am spoiled. I know many people live without electricity in their homes. When I have to “suffer” through a power outage, I begin to think of all the people who live without the luxury of electricity.
I checked the charge on my laptop and was confident I would have enough battery to get today’s post finished. That would be it—my laptop would need to be recharged before I could use it again. No worries—I had coffee and a fully changed battery—I’d be OK for this morning.
The Power of ‘The Body’
I thought about the first part of this passage. Paul used the analogy of a body. It’s a good analogy—without a head connected and working properly, a body won’t function. That is pretty dramatic. I have never seen anyone beheaded or without a head. I can’t live without my head—I have had to live without electricity for brief moments, and in the winter, during ice storms, even a few hours or a couple of days.
I thought of the first part of this passage, and as I read it, I realized why I only thought about the first few verses. The farther I go into this chapter, the more difficult the commands become.
I can function doing what comes naturally by God’s grace. I can do it well. I can do it gladly—at least in the beginning. I was feeling good until I got to verse 9. I had a stomachache by the time I got to verses 14-20.
Only With God’s Power
Living the way God wants me to live, takes more power than I have on my own. Just like my laptop, I can run for a while on my own battery and work just fine. As God demands that I act more like Christ and less like me, my battery runs down very fast. It doesn’t take long until I hear the “BEEP” of the low power alarm in my heart. That low power alarm in my heart isn’t an actual “BEEP”—it takes the form of vengeful thoughts and plotting schemes. It sounds like, “Oh, Yah? Well, I’ll show you!” I certainly don’t have the power within myself to bless my enemies. Rarely does the thought to pray for the ornery people who populate my life come to my mind. When it does, I often choke on the words.
My battery doesn’t have that much power.
To conquer evil with good, I need a consistent flow of power. I need powerful power. When my mom taught me Romans 12:21, I memorized the King James Version:
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Don’t be overcome… That takes power. More power than I have on my own.
Father, I NEED YOUR POWER TODAY. As evil swells and begins to overtake me, give me Your power to overcome with goodness. Forgive my willful, vengeful heart. Help me to love those who are not lovable the way You love unlovable me. I need Your power to me like You. When I get ready to pull the plug and go my own way—remind me to stay connected—to be energized with Your power.