9Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. 10Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.
12Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful. 13When God’s children are in need, be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night.
14If people persecute you because you are a Christian, don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. 16Live in harmony with each other. Don’t try to act important, but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
17Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible. (Romans 12:9-18, NLT)
The Daily DAVEotional
The second half of Romans 12 reads almost like a chapter in the book of Proverbs, with each verse seemingly reflecting its own solitary counsel of wisdom.
Yet there is a theme that ties this section together, and that is the idea of loving others. We all know that love is the supreme command. Jesus himself said that all the laws could be summed up in the ONE command to love God and love others.
But what does it really mean to love other people? Paul, in this section, gives a bit of a glimpse.
First off, it’s easy to talk about love but it’s harder to actually demonstrate it. Hence, the admonition to really love people and not just pretend to love others.
Love can be tangibly demonstrated by showing genuine affection for others as well as honoring others.
Love is patient with others and is demonstrated by helping meet tangible physical needs, such as providing food and/or lodging to people when they need it.
Love is empathetic. When people are happy, we rejoice with them, but when they’re sad, we share in their sorrow.
People who are loving don’t show partiality to select groups of people and they don’t try to prop themselves up by acting like they know everything. In other words, love isn’t ego-centric, but it’s other-centered. Love is selfless.
Love is not vengeful but seeks to bless others, even those whose aim is to persecute us.
Love seeks peace and harmony with others. It’s not always possible to achieve because we can’t control how others act or respond, but we can control how we respond in a given situation.
As I think about these words of Paul, I wonder how different our physical and online encounters with others would be if we sincerely took these words to heart and sought to integrate them into our lives and character.
The truth is, truly loving people is hard. It’s difficult to love those who have wronged you and even more difficult to love those who are actively persecuting you. When someone wrongs me, my sin nature wants to wrong them back.
Truly loving people in a way that reflects Jesus’s standards and expectations isn’t possible apart from the transforming power of God’s Spirit working in our lives.
We are all unfinished products and we need Jesus every day to live His life in and through us. When I commit to yielding to Him and I consciously invite Him to empower me, I find that I’m able to act in a way that is more reflective of God’s love for me. But when I’m being self-centered and rebellious, my life and actions don’t look very loving.
This is why Paul, at the outset of this chapter, encourages us to offer our bodies up to the Lord as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). He’s inviting us to surrender our will to that of the Lord’s. If we can purpose to do this more consistently, moment by moment, we just might find ourselves demonstrating love to others in the way that Paul describes.
Paul gives a number of tangible expressions of love. Which ones are easier for you to demonstrate and which ones do you find more challenging?
Do you find it easy or hard to live in harmony and peace with others? Why or why not?
What are some examples you can think of in our culture that demonstrate a lack of love?
What are some positive examples of love you have seen in your life and/or community?
In your opinion, what are some reasons why people are so unloving toward others?
What do you think are some solutions that would help to get people to love others?
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok: https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-sand-love-text-on-seashore-348520/