Romans 12:9-10

Romans 12 is a treasure house of practical suggestions for Christian living.  In this amazing chapter Paul, the theologian, becomes Paul, the psychologist.   Randomly I put my finger on the page and found, “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.” (NIV)  If one were looking for a topic for a presentation there are at least five in these two verses.  I was curious how they were paraphrased by Eugene Petersen in The Message and found the following, “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.”
That first idea about loving from your center and not faking is often a serious challenge because everyone we meet is not lovable.  Fortunately Paul doesn’t tell us to like everyone.  Liking and loving are very different.  Liking is enjoying another’s company.  Loving is wanting the best for them.  We can always want the best for someone even though they are obnoxious and unpleasant. 
It is the last idea that fascinates me.  “Practice playing second fiddle.”  How often do we not mind another excelling just as long as we excel just a little bit more than they do?  How often do we wait for someone to take a breath so we can jump in with a bigger “fish” story?  Paul hits me in the solar plexus with this one.  I love telling stories and I am my favorite topic.  However, I must add here that in II Corinthians 11 Paul doesn’t seem to mind regaling us with a litany of his adventures.  Only Jesus was and is perfect.