ALMIGHTY and Everlasting God, Who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the supplications of Thy people, and grant us Thy peace all the days of our life; through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
-- Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
--Romans 12:6–16 (NKJV)
Today's Epistle reading exhorts us to live out the life God has called and equipped us for--in other words, to live out our vocation. The gifts and talents described in the first paragraph describe those unique aspects of our vocation that God has each of us to individually. What we mundanely call 'work' is more than that. It is our divine calling through which we love our neighbors and work as for the Lord. To labor cheerfully and with excellence in the place where God has placed us is pleasing to him and of great benefit to those around us.
Beyond this unique vocation to which God has called us, as Christians we share a common expression of loving our neighbors, which is described in the other paragraphs of our Epistle reading. We are to love others sincerely, selflessly, joyfully, and patiently. We are to meet others' spiritual needs in prayer and physical needs by providing material things they lack. All of this we are to do in humility and gratitude.
The Christian calling, though simple, is not easy. At almost every point, it contrasts with the values and attitudes of the world around us. We will meet resistance from the old Adam within and our culture around us. So we pray for God's grace to equip us, strengthen us, and encourage us to lives of service and peace.
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