Stop Swiping, Start Serving

Consider how you can replace self-indulgence with expressing love to others, self-centeredness with a life of blessing and serving others. For this is why God made you, why he called you, and why he saved you—so you could live a life of doing good to others for the glory of his name.

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that in the past few weeks, you have probably not gotten rip-roaring drunk nor participated in a debauched drinking party. You have probably not given yourself over to rampant sexual immorality or a life obsessed with sensuality. At least, I hope not.

I raise these particular issues because Paul raises them in his letter to the Romans. As he helps the Christians in Rome understand how the gospel is meant to work itself out in life, he lists three pairs of sins that are unfitting for Christians. “Let us walk properly as in the daytime,” he says, “not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy” (13:13). It seems to me that if he went to the trouble of listing such sins, we should go to the trouble of considering them—and not only as vague representative sins that other people may be tempted to commit, but as actual sins that may be present in your life and mine, whether subtly or explicitly.

It is my understanding that what binds these sins together is that they are a failure to love. After all, Paul makes clear that the great implication of the gospel he has outlined in the opening chapters of Romans is love! Your duty, your calling, your responsibility, your privilege is to love others as a display of God’s love for you. And each of these sins represents a failure to do so.

And so you can’t love others when your life is marked by drunkenness or partying. And what stands behind these sins is a desire for escapism. It could be bingeing on alcohol or on Netflix, on video games, or on social media—whatever causes you to lose control of your time and devote too much of it to pursuits that are ultimately vain and distracting. If you are utterly devoted to addictive substances or addictive entertainment, that will necessarily diminish your willingness and ability to love others.

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