I cannot believe that we’ve begun a new year, but as I see it, with the start of a new year, within a new decade it seems more important to reevaluate what we’ve chosen to carry over from the past decade into this new one– don’t you agree? Personally, as the Lord shapes my life through my Christian walk I have increasingly become more observant and more critical of the company I keep. In short, what influences has one surrounded themselves with, and do those external influences steer one away from, or one towards their purpose and destiny. You see, once you have chosen your goals for 2020 it matters a great deal whom you surround yourself with, because when plans appear to crumble in mid-flight ( as they sometimes do) it’s those external influences: those friends, confidantes, comrades or constituents that could potentially realign you or stop you from fulfilling your purpose and fulfilling your destiny. It’s these ‘friends’ that could turn your 2020 year into a heavenly one or a hellish one.
As I study the book of Romans, Apostle Paul continues to open my eyes regarding the lifelong regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, within the heart of any follower of Christ. In Romans, Chapter 12, Paul speaks to his brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ and urges those who know the mercy of God to consider offering their bodies as a living sacrifice as an act of worship to Him. One way he unpacks this complicated text is by encouraging the masses to not continue to be conditioned ( or trapped) with how the world thinks, behaves and reasons their worldly actions, thoughts, behavior and habits. But, he suggests, upon Salvation how a Born Again disciple should adopt a new way of thinking, a new way of living. As a result, through the power of the Holy Spirit they will ultimately know God’s “good, pleasing and perfect will” ( Romas 12:2) for their lives.
It is after this discourse of scripture that I came upon this text, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:9-16.
Upon meditating on this text, Paul immediately clears up how the love that we’ve received from Christ ought to pour out from self, as sincere, when handling one another with care. Have you chosen to align yourself, in 2020, with folks demonstrating sincere love? In other words, are you receiving the type of love that has ‘your’ best interest at the heart in its outreach to you. Or, is there an ulterior motive steering you into an emotional spiral of negativity, despair and desperation. I must add as a disclaimer that love in this text doesn’t indicate a lack common sense on the one administering this kind of love nor does it indicate that those who have chosen to overlook others offenses place themselves in harms way. No. God’s love, when led my the Holy Spirit, protects through a discerning heart submitting to the Holy Spirit’s in timing, tone and tact. This Godly love comes with honesty and genuineness–not manipulation, coercion or confusion. The key hear is within receiving the agape love from God that we can in return experience it with God’s people, from an unselfish heart posture, and to those in need. We can then freely rejoice when they rejoice and mourn when they mourn without a selfish ulterior motive attached to it. It is only then, in that sincerity of love, that one can offer their lives up as a living sacrifice compelling one to take the focus off of self while trusting God with their life, in order to practice hospitality with others.
My question to you is, “Do you have friends like this in your life?” What has God been telling you, through the still-small-voice ( Holy Spirit) regarding those you’ve chosen to align yourself with in 2020? Have you been too proud, despondent or resistant while choosing to cling to folks that are clearly against you rather than the Godly friends who are for you? Beloved, vow to make ‘this year’ the year to not just see more clearly, but to also make it a year where you apply these changes to your life. Right now. TODAY.