Romans 12:9-18 (NIV)
Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Only nine verses…but there is so much packed into them! When it comes to the topic of love, God gets right to it. He does not waste words nor time. And neither does His apostle Paul.
From the very start of this passage, Paul begins to instruct and inform us on just what loving one another entails. First of all he tells us that our love must be sincere. This is how the Lord loves us, so it makes sense that He would tell us to love in the same way.
As Christians we don’t simply dislike what is evil in this world, we “hate” it. This too is just how our Savior feels about evil of all types. In direct contrast to that, and just as strongly, we are to “love” that which is good. If we can grasp and hold onto the goodness of things and incorporate it into our actions, we are doing well.
A teaching like this would always include some humbleness of nature, and service to others, so Paul tells us to honor people “above” ourselves. And because we do so with sincerity of heart, we need to keep up our true dedication to the work of the Lord, and not lose our desire or zeal to do it well.
The list of love’s duties in Christ continues in “rapid fire” fashion as we look further at this scripture. We are to be joyful in the hope of heaven, patient when tried by all afflictions, and talk with the Father in every circumstance. What’s more, we are to share with our fellow brothers and sisters in need, practicing our generosity in every way we can.
In the next verses we find some things which may challenge a few of us, especially that which follows immediately. The Lord tells us that love includes our responsibility to “bless those who persecute us; bless and do not curse.” This will include forgiving those who do us wrong, and that may be nearly impossible for some to do! But it is not a suggestion, it is a commandment from our Lord and we must endeavor to follow it!
Consider that our Father sent His only Son, Christ Jesus to the cross in order to save our souls, and this while we were still sinners. We were persecuting the Lord, yet He found a way to forgive us. Therefore, in the example Christ, we need to forgive those who mistreat us.
But our love doesn’t end here. We need to be there for others, both in times of rejoicing and sorrow. This exercises our abilities in fellowship and encouragement. Further, Christians are to live in harmony with everyone, even those who may hold “lower positions” in life than us. This takes away pride and conceit from poisoning our attitudes towards others.
Again, Paul feels it necessary to reiterate the fact that we are not to repay evil for evil. Earlier, right at the beginning of the passage, he tells us to hate what is evil. If we do this then how can we use vile, malicious actions and words against our enemies. The point is we can’t!
Now if we are doing the things listed here, we will be shining a light on our lives for everyone to see. This will perhaps cause others to take note of our way of life and ask us why we do the things we do. Of course this opens a door for us to talk about Jesus Christ.
Finally, as Paul concludes his thoughts, once more we are encouraged to live in peace with everyone, so far as it depends on us to make it possible. No doubt, there will be those with whom we will not be able to live in contentment. Sadly, there are just some people, living with worldly hearts and minds, who will continue to mistreat us no matter our disposition toward them. But that is their fault and the Lord knows it.
Let us continue to try to live up to the things which Paul has listed here. For this is the truest example of the love of God and the pattern we must follow in our lives.
May the Lord bless us and grant us success and joy as we seek to do these things. And in every way, let us be thankful for our blessings of both this life and the life God has prepared for us in heaven!