Someone once said, “if you haven’t changed the heart, you haven’t changed anything at all.” Never was that truer than when that statement is applied to love. A person can do loving things and still harbor anger or hatred in their heart. There’s an old joke that goes something like this. “When is a door not a door.” The answer is: when it’s ajar. Get it? “A Jar.” Or to put it another way in our context, when it becomes something else. When is a thief not a thief? When they stop stealing? No. Because a person can be put in jail for 20 years and if something hasn’t changed inside of them when they’re released, they go back to stealing. When is a thief not a thief? When he becomes something different. Something fundamental has to happen inside. We call it a change of heart. Romans 12:1-2.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The Message paraphrase says it like this, “You’ll be changed from the inside out.”Love does that to you. It changes you. It transforms you. It gives you a new perspective. It gives you a new motivation. It instills hope.
Romans 12:10says “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;” Giving preference to another person requires the transforming power of God who changes the heart from the inside out. The word “preference” means going before, leading, setting an example. They were to be diligent to show to each other all the respect which was due in the various relations of life; children to show proper respect to parents, parents to children, servants to their masters, and all to strive by mutual kindness to promote the joy of the Christian community.
How different this from the spirit of the world; the spirit which seeks, not to confer honor, but to obtain it; which aims, not to diffuse respect, but to attract all others to give honor to us. If this single direction were to be obeyed in society, it would put an end to envy, It would produce contentment, it would give order and beauty to the church.
So, what can we do in light of such passages?
Make the decision to give the benefit of the doubt to people. Giving your life daily to Jesus also includes others.