Sunday: Romans 12:12
v12: Its not certain what levels of persecution Christians in Rome were experiencing as Paul wrote this letter (AD 58). Nero was emperor (AD 54-68) and would in a few years (AD 64) direct a brutal persecution, falsely blaming them for starting a fire that burned a sizable portion of the city. Neros predecessor, Claudius, had issued an edict forcing Jews to leave the city in AD 49 or 50 (Ac 18:2). At that time Christianity was still considered by many to be a form of Judaism so the church would have been affected to some degree. And there are so many references to persecution in New Testament letters there can be little doubt that the situation in Rome was similar (Ro 8:35, 2Co 1:5; 4:8, 9; 8:1, 2; 1Th 1:6; 2:2; 3:3; 2Th 1:4; 3:11, 12; Heb 10:32-34; 13:23, 24; 1Pe 4:12-19). Many who converted had been abandoned by family or harassed by hostile members of their community. Saying yes to Jesus left innocent people destitute so it was urgent that their new spiritual brothers and sisters accept the responsibility to care for their practical needs.
Monday: Romans 12:12
v12 (continued): Paul says it is essential for believers to maintain an eternal perspective in the midst of affliction. We are to rejoice in hope. By keeping Gods promises concerning the resurrection and the glories of the new age in the forefront of our minds we are able to say with Paul, For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Ro 8:18). Paul considered suffering to be an unavoidable part of being identified with Jesus (Ro 8:17). Yet even the most intense suffering is only temporary. It is soon cast aside as we step into our glorious destiny. Knowing this allows us to suffer and rejoice at the same time (Ac 16:23-25).
Tuesday: Romans 12:12, 13
v12 (continued): Hope gives us the inner strength to patiently endure affliction, but prayer brings divine protection (Ro 15:30, 31; 2Co 1:10, 11; Php 1:19), strength (Col 4:12) and Spirit-arranged opportunities for evangelism (Col 4:2-4), so Paul adds, In prayer, stay strong, dont quit! v13: In regard to the needs of impoverished believers Paul says, Generously share what you have with them as if they were your own family (koinonia, Ac 2:42, 44, 45; 2Co 8:4; 9:13). Surely he has widows, the sick and the homeless in mind when he tells us, Pursue hospitality (literally, love of strangers). He doesnt say practice hospitality, he says pursue it, meaning actively find and shelter them (Mt 25:38; 1Ti 3:2; Titus 1:8; Heb 13:2, 3). He wants us to care for fellow believers as if they were our own flesh and blood.
Wednesday: Romans 12:14
v14: People who are persecuted for their faith suffer not only physical hardship, but emotional and mental hardship as well. They are enduring a gross injustice. The attacks are completely undeserved. They have been rejected, impoverished or even injured not because they did something wrong but simply because they responded to Gods call to believe in His Son, Jesus Christ (1Pe 2:19-24). Especially in situations where betrayal, thanklessness, cruelty and illogical hatred has been directed at us by those we once trusted, loved or selflessly served there tends to arise in us a natural backlash of fury. We experience a surge of emotion that wants to respond in wounded anger by calling on God to curse them, to demand that He grant us justice. So Paul speaks directly to the heart of those struggling with these feelings and says, Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Lk 6:27-35). He explains more fully why we should do this in verses 17-21.
Thursday: Romans 12:15, 16
v15: The level of care believers are to give to one another goes even deeper than practical needs. Paul tells us to let our hearts be knit together to the point that we participate with one another in the emotional highs and lows of life. We rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Life is to be lived together, not in isolation. Together we enjoy good times and together we endure bad times, which makes the rejoicing more wonderful and the sorrow more bearable. v16: And such care is to be given equitably to all who are in need. No one should be given preferential treatment and no one should be ignored. Paul literally says we should be of the same mind toward one another meaning in the way we think about others we should give equal value to those who come from humble circumstances or are distinguished members of the community (Ro 15:5-7; 1Co 12:22-26; Jas 2:1-4, 9)
Friday: Romans 12:16, 17
v16 (continued): Then he adds, Dont become wise in yourselves meaning here, dont become proud and decide you can ignore my instructions. Dont let your fleshly mind determine who deserves help and who doesnt. Submit to Gods wisdom which teaches you to treat all fairly. v17: The directives given in verses 17-21 are true for all types of relationships, but in this context it appears that Paul is applying them particularly to persecuted believers (1Th 5:15). Hes teaching us how to relate to hostile family members and neighbors. The first thing he says is, To no one return evil for evil (Mt 5:38-48; 1Pe 3:9), and then adds, think carefully before you act so that what you do leaves you with a good reputation in the community (2Co 4:2; 8:21; Pr 3:4).
Saturday: Romans 12:18, 19
v18: Jesus instructed His disciples to not stir up unnecessary trouble. Being identified with Him would provoke plenty of hostility without adding to it by foolish mistakes (Mt 10:16). In the same line of thinking Paul tells us, If possible, at least as far as you can influence the situation, live peacefully with unbelievers. v19: We must resist the impulse to seek revenge when someone hurts us, and instead place the matter in Gods hands, letting Him be the judge. We can be absolutely confident that He will bring justice to the one who has harmed us, if they dont truly repent. He reminds us of Moses words in his song that God doesnt forget the evil done to His people, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay says the Lord (Dt 32:34-36). In his second letter to the Thessalonians Paul describes this vengeance (2Th 1:6-10). The picture he presents stirs compassion in us even for our worst oppressor. No matter whats been done to us, no one in whom the love of God dwells can desire such an eternal destiny for anyone, which is why we choose instead to love our enemies (Mt 5:44) and seek to win them to Christ.