9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-13
We have a giant plastic box at home. And depending on the occasion we all have reached into it. Its the costume box. We have hats: firemen hats, cowboy hats, pirate hats, clown hats, robin hood hats. We have capes: merry men, zorro, and all kinds of super heroes. We have wings and wands and brooms. We have… Ok you get the picture!
No actors allowed.
At a moment’s notice we can be someone else! When we put on these hats and capes we get to pretend to be someone else with different powers and personas. But this is not how we are to live as followers of Jesus.The Apostle Paul is clear — those who have received the mercy and grace of God through Jesus Christ are done with pretending. He writes, “Let love be genuine.”
The phrase here is more like a heading: The Love Sincere. The love without hypocrisy. No play-acting or pretending here! This is how we are to steward the grace of God given us and residing in our bodies and our fellowship.
With that introduction Paul is off to the races. He races through a list of commands illustrating real love in a world of great challenge. In the first five verses of this list of love we see that maturing, genuine love empowered by Jesus gives His people a subtle and pervasive strength. What real love can do, the people of Jesus begin to do.
What love can do; and how Jesus’ disciples are being changed.
Love can differentiate. So, they know the difference between what is evil and what is good. (v. 9)
Love has brotherly affection. So, they maintain boundaries in relationships. (v. 10)
Love honours. So, they can show honour to others without fear of loosing themselves. (v. 10)
Love takes personal responsibility; So, they perennially engage in the disciplines generating enthusiasm for Jesus. (v. 11-12)
Love sees what is needed; So, they enter into the lives of others and allow others into their own. (v. 13)
Make it personal.
In these five verses we are confronted with a dynamic vision of the soul who loves. Jesus shows me the God who loves, and shows me that I am loved. Such knowledge changes everything in my relationships with people and the stuff of earth. Authentic stewardship is love in motion. I know a transformation is required! But it cannot be hurried. There is no mask to put on that will make me love like Jesus. There is only a work to be done from the inside out.