9Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This, one of Paul’s many blessings, illustrates the kind of life we are to live. Let love be genuine; hate what is evil hold fast to what is good. None of these are surprises as we think about the shape of Christian life; but we could always do with encouragement—which is exactly what this is. We rejoice not because everything is going great (it isn’t!). We rejoice because we hope that God is at work redeeming brokenness. We may not always feel patient, but that’s how to be when suffering. We keep praying even if we haven’t gotten an answer because that’s what patience and hope look like. Be hospitable. Share with others. The encouragement keeps coming. Bless those who persecute you. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. Our faith isn’t just about times when things are going well, but for times, just like these. How are we to live, how we are to be when everything around us seems like it’s falling apart? Paul’s answer: be just like this.
God, for your encouragement, for your word, for the example of saints and Apostles, we worship you. Help us to live in this way, reflecting the grace of love of Jesus Christ, displaying who you are to a world desperate to know you, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.