February 13 - Romans 12:9-21

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Romans 12:9-21 – Mark of a Christian

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:  “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

After writing about the gifts that come specifically to each person, Paul now speaks of attributes that each Christian should embody. In essence, these words describe love and for the Church, love is the foundation of its life as a whole and of each individual's life within the body of Christ.

He begins by writing that love must be sincere. This is different than schmoozy sentimentality. It is deep and abiding, it despises evil (note that Paul never says we are to despise whom we choose to be evil people … please note that). When he writes that we are to cling to what is good, this verb means something akin to glue … to cling to something means that we are stuck to it and cannot be separated from it.

Brotherly love is an affection for each other that was not seen in any other society except for among the Christians. As Christians we are part of a family. We have been adopted by God and as his children we are brothers and sisters with other Christians and we love as family loves. In honoring each other, Paul uses a verb that implies an eagerness to show respect for each other. We should be eager to treat each other better than we treat ourselves, to set our own needs aside and honor another. Paul instructs Christians to point out the good qualities in other Christians, rather than highlighting their weaknesses. When it comes to serving the Lord, we must not be lazy, but do so with continued diligence.

Even when it seems there is no hope, the hope of glory that comes from Jesus is enough to bring us joy; we endure things without question and remain faithful in prayer. We care for those who are in need and practice hospitality.

The rest of these verses continue to list those things which promote love within a community, always setting others above the self, whether they love us or not. Bless those who persecute, live in harmony, do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay evil for evil. Do what is right in the eyes of everyone. Live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge … that is God's task. Overcome evil with good.

These are not suggestions. These are expectations for all who call themselves Christian.