November 29

Romans 13:11-14

“Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” vs. 14

As Paul writes to the Romans his carefully reasoned theological constructs are not always easy to understand, but he closes with some practical advice that is hard to misconstrue. He wants them to know that proper theology can be helpful, but it’s not the bottom line. What really counts is behavior. He believed that the end times were coming and that they should be prepared. It wasn’t the time for reckless and licentious behavior–and it certainly wasn’t the time for reveling and drunkenness. In fact he advises them to make no provision for the desires of the flesh, words that later Christians have often interpreted in excruciatingly narrow ways. Strict and austere behavior was encouraged; anything fun or pleasurable was ruled out. In our day such pietism is rare–we’re more into the “anything goes” phase of life style choices. While this move away from moralism can be understood–we no longer believe that following Jesus means stifling joy and pleasure–Paul did have a point. Our behavior does make a difference and our appetites can get out of control. Temptations abound in our world and some choices can lead us far from the path of righteousness. It isn’t that we need to behave in a particular way because the end is near–that’s a pretty hypocritical motivator. But if we really are interested in letting our Christ-light shine, there’s no substitute for simple love and tender care in all of our interactions.

Thought for the Day: When have my appetites led me astray?

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