Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and have been reading chapter 12 during the week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.
We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, to bless those who persecute them, to use our emotions for the Lord and for each other, to live in harmony with one another, to reach out to others regardless of their status, and to not repay evil with evil!
Let’s continue our multipart study by looking again at verse 17.The twentieth critical imperative is pretty straightforward —
20. Believers are TO DO RIGHT BEFORE EVERYONE (v. 17)!
If we connect this imperative with the previous one (not to repay anyone evil for evil), then the committed Christ-follower is not only not to do evil but he is to do what is right! We choose not to wreck vengeance for ourselves and we decide to do what is right before everyone.
Notice that this imperative begins with the words “be careful to do what is right . . .” Why the words “be careful”? This word is from the verb προνοέω, a verb used three times in the New Testament meaning “to perceive beforehand, foresee, to provide for, strive to exhibit.” The Apostle says in 2 Corinthians 8:21- “for we are concerned to do what is right, not only before the Lord but also before men.” In I Timothy 5:8 he writes, “But if anyone does not care for his own, especially his household members, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
The believer in Jesus is to think ahead (προ = “before” +νοέω = “to think”) and choose to do what is right. Not what is expedient or culturally acceptable or popular or easy. But what is right.
And notice, please, that the audience is spelled out for us: “before everyone,” a thought the Apostle repeats in 2 Corinthians 8:21 (“for we are concerned to do what is right, not only before the Lord but also before men.”). Our choice to do what is right is not simply before the Lord, but before the people with whom we are associated.
Today’s Challenge: In living for Jesus in this world, you and I will be faced many times with the task of simply doing what is right. If you say “I want to do what is right today,” does any particular act come to mind that you should follow through on?
Our latest book, The Forgotten Third: Developing a Biblical Relationship with God the Holy Spirit, challenges the believer to genuinely “walk in the Spirit”! You can order this right now through Amazon or directly from me (send $10 [which includes shipping] to my address).
Dr. Larry Dixon
117 Norse Way
Columbia, SC 29229 Cell: 803-201-9745