Romans 12:9-21 (CEB)
9 Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. 11 Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! 12 Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. 14 Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. 16 Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. 17 Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good.
18 If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people. 19 Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord. 20 Instead, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head. 21 Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.
There is so much going on in the world right now that can be heartbreaking. The disparities in resources, the racism plaguing our country, the inequality, the hatred. I could go on. But I won’t. I choose not to. I choose hope. It’s not always an easy thing to do, but I try my hardest to choose hope as I work for the Kingdom of God.
This scripture reminded me of a sweet little boy we met while delivering groceries a month ago. As we handed his mom a bag of groceries, he wanted to carry the box of diapers for his little sisters. The problem was he was happily eating a banana. You could see the conflicted look on his face of just how he would manage to do both…. Hold his yummy banana or carry the diapers. Mom reached down and held his banana for him. He hoped that he wouldn’t drop his banana or that his siblings wouldn’t eat it. Hoped his mom would guard it. That hope helped him let go of the banana. Love helped him hold onto the diapers.
You see, Paul tells us in this scripture to let go of evil. Let go of resentment. Let go of egos. Let go of revenge. Let go of anger. Letting go IS hope. Hope in Jesus’ name. Hope in love. Hope in peace. Hope in each other. Sometimes the hardest one (v. 14) is hope in each other. This is exactly Paul’s point. Paul knows what it’s like to only have hope to cling to. Right now, during this time of crisis, we need hope. Hope is contagious. We can still cry with each other and have hope. We can be frustrated with circumstances and still have hope. We can hate the addiction and still love our friend. We can despise injustice and pray for people in power. We can hate evil and still love our enemies. Letting go of what doesn’t glorify God is what frees up our hands and hearts to hold on to love, God’s love. But the first step is HOPE.
Loving Protector God. I come to know, with the best of my ability, to let go of what does not honor you; to let go of what keeps me from having hope. Your Son, Jesus, was the ultimate figure of Hope. He let go, had hope and loved everyone. Help me, God, to trust that You have all things in Your hands. You are hope. You are Love. And because You created me in your image, I am hope. I am love. Help me to be that in this world. Amen.