“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in 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 the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Romans 12: 9-13 NIV)
These words clearly describe a model for Christian living. However, as we examine our own lives and the lives of fellow Christians, what does this type of behavior look like? As I read these words I was reminded of an article I recently read in the Washington Post, “The Un-celebrity President” by Kevin Sullivan. The author describes the lives of former presidents and what their lives are like after leaving the White House. What I found most interesting is the focus placed on President Jimmy Carter who now leads a very simplistic life of faith and service. Jimmy Carter, who is almost 94 and his wife Rosalynn, almost 91 returned to their modest home in Plains, Georgia. His life is in sharp contrast to other former presidents who upon leaving the White House, focused on wealth. The Carters chose to return to the house they lived in before he entered politics, a two- bedroom rancher. Jimmy Carter, most notably, has helped renovate 4300 homes in 14 countries for Habitat for Humanity. His age has not served as a deterrent because he will be working on homes for low-income people in Indiana later this month. Every Sunday morning, Carter teaches Sunday school at the Maranatha Baptist Church and people line up the night before to get a seat. He recently taught his 800th Sunday School lesson since leaving the White House. In 2015, he was diagnosed with melanoma on his liver and brain but in a news conference he said he was “perfectly at ease with whatever comes.” Today after radiation and chemotherapy, Carter says he is cancer-free. And he continues to live his life in service to others.
What does this mean for us? If we say we love others, then our behavior needs to demonstrate that. Do we put the needs of others before our own? Living in our current society it is easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and focus on our own desires and needs, leaving little time for others. However, the words found in Romans is a challenge to us all to be sincere in our love for others as we serve the Lord.