Living the Christian Life

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.  Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  (Romans 12:6-14) 

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St Paul gives us a pretty good description of what it means to be a Christian in the above passage and we should consider how to live that life in Christ.  Let’s look at that list of behaviors to put into practice: 

show mercy, with cheerfulness. 

 Let love be without hypocrisy. 

Abhor what is evil. 

Cling to what is good.  

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 

not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 

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rejoicing in hope, 

patient in tribulation, 

continuing steadfastly in prayer; 

distributing to the needs of the saints, 

given to hospitality. 

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 

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St John Chrysostom commenting on Psalm 128:1, “Blessed are all those who fear the Lord, who travel in his ways”, confirms there are many ways to do the Lord’s bidding: 

“He did not say ‘way’ but ways, showing  that they are many and varied: he made them many for the purpose of rendering our approach easy by the great number of ways.  I mean, some people become conspicuous for virginity, others are eminent for married life, still others bear their widowhood as an adornment; some people divested themselves of everything, others of half; some people proceed by a faultless life, others by repentance—he made many paths so that you might travel easily.  Were you not strong enough to keep your body pure after the washing?  You could make yourself pure through repentance, through money, through almsgiving.  But you have no money?  Still, you could visit the sick, go to see the imprisoned, give a drink of cold water to the thirsty, make the stranger welcome under your roof, part with two obols like the widow, and groan at the condition of those in pain—which is also almsgiving.  But you are completely destitute and indigent, weak in body and incapable of walking?  Bear it all with gratitude, and you will reap a great reward.”  (COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS Vol 2, p 180) 

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Chrysostom offers us an idea that at time, we can do that which pleases God, and he even goes through some extenuating circumstances which might make it difficult to be good disciples of Christ.  Have you gotten off track and sinned?  Then repent.  Struggling financially and can’t give to charity?  Then give of your time and talents to neighbor or stranger.  Are you completely destitute and crippled?  Then pray and offer thanksgiving to God.  No matter what your condition is, you still have something to offer God and the people around you.

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