Romans 12 contains some
of the most practical teachings among all of Paul’s letters. The apostle Paul
made an urgent plea to his Christian audience: a) to present their bodies as a
living sacrifice to God (v. 1 – 2), b) to serve one another in the Church body
(v. 3 – 8), and c) to actively love people without hypocrisy (v. 9 – 21). So
far, we have talked about the first and second segment of the chapter, today
I’d like for us to consider a very important aspect of our Christian lives:
Love – pure and undefiled love.
Love is at the center of everything godly. As a matter of fact, when Jesus was asked; “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” He responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 34 – 40). Paul echoed Jesus’ teachings on love in the thirteenth chapter of Romans: “For he who loves another has fulfilled the law of Christ… love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13: 8, 10). John made it clear that “God is love, and he who does not love does not know God because God is love (1 John 4). In the Old Testament, we learn that God chose the nation of Israel not because they were more numerous than the other nations but because He loved them (Deuteronomy 7:7). Jesus taught his disciples that the world will know who they are ‘If they love one another” (John 13: 34-35). Many are the verses in the Bible that talk about the important and imperative of love in the life of a believer. However, I believe Romans 12: 9 – 21 offers us a deeper and more practical teaching on love other than the teachings of Jesus Christ himself.
Paul started the pericope with these words: “Let love be without hypocrisy.” Why did Paul have to encourage disciples of Christ to love one another without hypocrisy? Shouldn’t that be expected of the Lord’s Church? Shouldn’t love always be true, pure, and undefiled in the Lord’s Church? (These questions are rhetorical). Love should never have any agendas. Love should always be patient, kind, hopeful, non-provoking, truthful, and real (1 Corinthian 13: 4 – 8). However, many of us may struggle to absolutely love one another as we are supposed to according to Scripture. That is why I said we need to “actively love people.” In 1 John 3: 18, the beloved apostle exhorted his fellow believers to not only love with our words but also with our actions: love must be active, it must come from the heart. Paul explained further what it means to love without hypocrisy. The “Roman” author says that when you love someone you need to be kind to that person and be willing to value their interests as your own. Also, love seeks to be at peace with everyone, as long as it depends on you (verse 18) and it does not seek revenge. Love does not hold any grudges, nor does it keep a record of wrongdoings to remind people of later in a relationship. It is possible for a disciple of Christ to not have a peaceful relationship with everyone where kindness and love are not reciprocated, but you must strive to keep no ill-will for any human being. When you love someone, you need to bless them with your words. The word “bless,” in this context, means to speak well of them and to actively wish them well even when it is not welcomed. If there is anything you can say or do to contribute to their overall well-being and success in life you ought to do it, because that is what love does. These two word “Love Does” are the title of a book written by Bob Goff, and I would strongly recommend it to any disciple of Christ who is striving to understand how love must be actively present in their life, just as much as God must be actively present in their life. After all, God is love (1 John 4), and if God is living in you, love cannot help but be actively present in your day to day interaction with other people around you. Love does not act because of what it is expecting in return, love simply acts.
I love you all,