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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Romans 12:9–21

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “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.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NRSV)

Every so often I take stock of where I am, looking at the goals I’ve set myself for that season but also at the bigger question of what I hope for in my life. It’s easy for me to get overwhelmed by what I haven’t done or, more precisely, the gap between what I wish to do and what I actually am. This shouldn’t be surprising to me, given how excited I get by things and how much I love the world and all the possibilities in it. I was the one who signed up for everything at activity fairs in college—and then ended up doing something completely different. Because I also have a strong sense of self-protection, I end up saying no a lot. Sometimes preemptively, before I should. Sometimes regretfully, when I realize I’ve taken on more than I should or realize that what I thought I wanted had more to do with what others did. And sometimes I just stand there hesitantly, aware that things have gotten off-kilter but uncertain of how I should go on. In all these times, I look for touchstones to help me find my way again.

Touchstones, like this passage in Romans. When I question what I am doing, it helps to hold my actions and my motivations up to guidelines such as these. Rejoice in hope. Be patient in suffering. Extend hospitality. Contribute to the needs of the saints. Persevere in prayer. Directives such as these remind me of what is important if I’ve gotten distracted again; calm and secure me if I’ve gotten too zealous in doubt; and remind me to always leave room for the presence of God.

Lord, help me to hold fast to what is good and let go of what does not serve you, for the sake of your beloved kingdom and all who are in it. Amen.

Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life

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