What does it mean to be a Christian, a follower of Christ? Does it mean believing that Jesus Christ is the Lord and that He died for our sins? Does it mean seeking His forgiveness and turning away from sin? Does it mean following His ways? Being a Christian does mean and require all of these things. But, how should a Christian act?
While Scripture gives us many answers to this question, especially in the words of Jesus Himself, one of the best explanations of how a Christian should act is found in the words of Romans 12:9-21. This passage of Scripture, written by Paul to the Roman believers, gives a comprehensive list of the ways in which a Christian should act.
A Christian is called to love with sincerity. Our love must be genuine and not just for show. Love that is not genuine is hypocrisy. We must hate what is evil and turn away from it. Instead, we must cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)
Christians should love one another as we love members of our own families. We can demonstrate that kind of love by putting others ahead of ourselves and by treating each other with honor. (Romans 12:10)
We are called to serve the Lord with our lives and we must be diligent in doing so. We should approach our service with zeal and fervency of spirit. (Romans 12:11)
As Christians, we have hope that comes from the Lord and from His promises. We should always rejoice in that hope. When faced with trials and with suffering, we should do so with patience. And, we should never cease in praying to our heavenly Father. (Romans 12:12).
As followers of Christ, part of the family of Christ, we need to be concerned with the needs of God's people. We should always be willing to help our brothers and sisters who are in need, and we must always practice hospitality when it comes to our family in Christ. (Romans 12:13)
When we face persecution from those who hate us, we must never curse them. Instead, we should bless them. (Romans 12:14) That is exactly what Jesus taught (Matthew 5:44) and what he demonstrated in His own life.
Christians need to show empathy. We should rejoice in the joy of others and share their joy. When others are hurting or filled with sorrow, we need to share their hurts and sorrows. (Romans 12:15)
We must live in harmony with one another and not be proud or snobbish. Rather, we must demonstrate humility and be willing to associate with everyone, not just those who are like ourselves. We should avoid conceit. (Romans 12:16)
When faced with evil, a follower of Christ must never repay it with evil. Our behavior when faced with evil should be above reproach. We should, as we are able, live in peace with others, and we should never seek vengeance. Vengeance belongs to the Lord and we must leave that to Him. We must love our enemies, even feeding them when they are hungry or providing drink when they are thirsty. As Christians, we must always look to overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21).
If we need an example of someone whose life demonstrates all of these behaviors, all we need to do is turn to the pages of the Gospels. There we will find that, in following the behaviors outlined in Romans 12, we are following those of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.