Posted April 22, 2013
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
In Romans 12:1, Paul urges his readers to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to God, and in the following verses unpacks some of the ways they were to do this. Note that much of our life of worship is lived out horizontally as we interact with others (with both Christians and non-Christians). God cares deeply about relationships and our relationship with God always affects how we relate to others. In verses 9 and 10 he gives 5 short commands.
1. Let love be genuine.
This genuine love described is opposed to hypocritical love (lit. “without hypocrisy”). We don’t want to love with mere lip-service like Judas! All prior references to love in Romans referred to God’s agape (unconditional) love toward us, but suddenly this word for love is used in the context of horizontal discipleship and directed not from God to us but rather from us to one another. Jesus says in John 13:35 that the world will know we are his disciples based on our love for one another... Genuine, un-hypocritical love. Where do we learn to love genuinely? John 13:34 tells us to love one another as he has loved us. We learn to love by looking to Jesus and in turn, relying on the Holy Spirit to teach us how to love! We can’t do genuinely this apart from him.
2. Abhor what is evil.
The command to love is followed by a command to hate! Often people think that love is a softening agent and never takes hard stands. Not for the Christian! Paul calls us to not just dislike, but to abhor evil; to develop a hatred for what is evil and contrary to God’s goodness and purity. How many people can say they genuinely hate what is evil? May God help us in this...
3. Hold fast to what is good.
We are not to be merely a people who “abhor evil”, but we must hold fast to what is good. It is not enough to reject, but we must embrace a new way of living and cling to what is good! The things worth something in life are worth a “long obedience in the same direction” (Eugene Peterson). May Christians be a people of discernment and faithfulness in the long term. May we be a people who aren’t just known for what they are against, but also what they are for (and holding fast to).
4. Love one another with brotherly affection.
We’re called to love again, but this time with a sort of affection that is true of those who are family members. Christ has called to himself a people, a “family of God” and despite all our differences, we must learn to love each other as a family! Christians are not just sons and daughters of God, but also brothers and sisters of one another. Love each other as such! Are you having difficulties loving someone else? Ask God to reveal the depth of his love for that brother or sister, and pray that God would fill you with the same love!
5. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Like Jesus came to serve others, so we are to imitate him as we serve others. Some use competition to show themselves better than others, but in this case competition is used in the opposite way! Who can outdo others in honoring them? What an amazing thing if we really lived like this and sought to consider others better than ourselves! For more help in this arena, check out Sam Crabtree’s book “Practicing Affirmation” (http://www.amazon.com/Practicing-Affirmation-God-Centered-Praise-Those/dp/1433522438/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366652204&sr=1-1&keywords=practicing+affirmation). In all these imperatives, ultimately Christ is our example for all and the source by which we learn to walk them out. Our love wavers but God’s agape love is steadfast in its quality and intensity. He will help us as we seek to be like him!
Song by Emery Clark.
Produced by Chris Clark.