Archive for September 18th, 2019

Romans 12:9-12

In Romans 12:9-12 Paul continues giving us direction on how we should live as we exercise the gifts that God gives to us. He starts by telling us that love needs to be genuine. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” Of course, love that isn’t genuine isn’t real love at all; but much of what masquerades as “love” in the Christian community can be surface only and not the deep and genuine love Paul is telling us to live. In some ways, it is easier for us to either abhor what is evil or hold fast to what is good rather than doing both. The godly person knows how to practice both.

He continues by telling us more about how to love one another. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” This is a command, that Christians should not have a cold, stand-offish attitude. We need to treat each other as family, as that’s truly what we are as children of God. As much as anything, a call to simple good manners among Christians. We honor each other by how we treat one another with respect and love. While Paul tells all of us to love each other, he also makes it sound almost like a challenge when he says to ‘outdo one another’. That’s how much effort we should put into the love and affection we need to share.

Paul next exhorts us to serve with all we have and are. We need to minister for God with zeal. “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” If we are called to brotherly affection and good manners, we also know that we are called to hard work. The church is no place for laziness. The word translated here for ‘fervent’ is boiling. We are to not be lukewarm or cold in our service to the Lord, but hot, hot, hot to the point of boiling. Elsewhere in scripture (Revelations) we are warned not to be lukewarm but God prefers hot or cold – but the only real option to please Him is boiling hot when it comes to serving.

Paul then gives us three more things we should do as we exercise our gifts. He first reminds us to rejoice in hope. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” The call to hope usually has in mind our ultimate reward with Jesus. Our ultimate hope is the promise of eternity with God and Christ in heaven. Paul says we serve God rejoicing in hope, not rejoicing in results. God alone controls the results. He then exhorts us to be patient as we face challenges. Serving God is not without some struggle. But if we patiently wait on Him, hope will win. And third he tells us to pray constantly. We are commanded to do all these things with an eye towards heaven. It is how we fulfill the command for hope, patience and constant prayer.

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