They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Romans 1:29-31
In today’s passage, the Apostle Paul is informing the saints in Rome about men and women who are godless, wicked, and even hate God. He describes them as a depraved people who depress the truth by their wickedness. They invent ways to do evil and have no fidelity, no love, and no mercy. Wow, what unbelievably terrible people they must have been!
As I read this passage, I remembered the type of individual I was while serving as a Captain and helicopter pilot in the United States Marine Corps. Of course, I wasn’t nearly as bad as the folks Paul describes in today’s passage; however, I had many spiritual issues. After serving my six years in the Marines, I left the Corps and made the conscious decision to stop cursing and being so overly arrogant. In the Marines, my arrogance and cursing was just a way of communicating and emphasizing certain instructions that was better understood in the eyes of most Marines under my command.
I struggled with breaking these habits for about a year but finally began to make headway. The secret was not only to avoid these habits but to replace them with something else. At the same time I began to read books on positive thinking written by Norman Vincent Peale. The combination of pursuing positive thinking and the conscious act of fleeing from the use of curse words seemed to do the trick. Eventually, I overcame the urge to curse and became a more humble man.
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy He wrote the following, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11).” His instructions for Timothy contained sound advice for living a godly life then and now. We must consciously flee from ungodly ways of living and pursue godly attributes.
As I struggle with many of the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease, I find the same is still true. If I desire to avoid aggressiveness, controversy, and quarreling in my daily life, then I must make a conscious effort to pursue gentleness, kindness, and peacefulness every day. In order to accomplish this, I must spend time with the Lord in prayer and reading His word. Only then will His gentle spirit and humble heart guide my daily actions and keep me from becoming like the men Paul described in today’s passage.