Romans 12:9-13 ESV
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
This word “love” is thrown around rather loosely in the world, it seems. For, it can mean so many things, but usually it is associated with human feelings. And, it is usually based on what makes us feel good. For, in the flesh, we tend to love those who make us feel good, or we tend to love things that bring us some type of pleasure, even sensual pleasure. But, even there, “love” can mean “lust,” or it can mean “like, enjoy, or take pleasure in.”
But, this kind of love mentioned here in this passage of scripture is not based on feelings or on what makes us feel good. It is divine love which prefers what God prefers, for it centers in moral preference (1). So, it prefers (chooses, upholds) what is holy, righteous, honest, and pure, etc. And, it loves even when people revile us. And, it loves our enemies and our persecutors, too. For, this love is based on God’s love for us and us loving others with the kind of love he has for us. So, it is shown through actions, i.e. in how we treat people, rather than being based on feelings.
But, evidently this kind of love can be faked, for the encouragement here is that we let this agape (divine love) be genuine (real, honest). For, sadly enough, there are those out there in this world of ours, and even among the gatherings of the church, who are faking their faith in Christ and their love for others. So, they will show kindness and goodwill, and they will do things for people, but not from truth, but from selfish motives, in order to fool people, and to try to make themselves appear good, either as a cover-up for evil, and/or in order to try to make others look bad by comparison.
But, if we are truly loving others with this divine love, which centers in moral preference, we are not going to lie to people, and we are not going to try to trick them or give them a false impression of us or try to make ourselves appear righteous and try to make others look bad by comparison. But, we are going to be honest and sincere in showing love to others. And, we are going to hate what is evil and cling to what is good in how we show love to others, too. For, we will be loving others like Jesus loves us.
Yet, even if our love for others is totally sincere, and even if we are truly loving others like Jesus loves us, it doesn’t mean that everyone is going to love us back. And, it doesn’t mean that everyone is going to feel loved or that they are going to recognize our actions towards them as though it is genuine love, because this word “love” has been so distorted. For, many people have the idea that love is about making people feel good rather than it being about doing for them what is truly for their good, for their benefit.
For, lies can feel good to us, if we believe them, if they are flowery and flattering, etc. But, lies are not kind, and they are never loving. So, if we love others with God-like love, which truly prefers what God prefers, then others may not see it as love, and they may reject, hate and persecute us, in return. So, we need to be patient in tribulation, and keep on praying, and keep on loving people, even if they return our love with hate and rejection.
Romans 12:14-19 ESV
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
This word “bless” is another word that is often loosely thrown around, and is often misused or misinterpreted. For, there is a popular movement right now in the Christian world which is leading professing Christians to go around “blessing” people, yet in the name of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, in many cases, these “blessings” are more about making people feel good, and they have nothing or little to do with actually sharing the gospel message of salvation (deliverance from our slavery to sin). And, there doesn’t have to be anything particularly “Christian” about them, either.
But, this word “bless” really means “good word” or “good reason,” and it has to do more with speaking this good reason to others which then confers benefit to them, i.e. what is beneficial to them (in God’s eyes), i.e. what is for their good, i.e. what is God’s best for them (2). So, it will never be anything contrary to what God prefers, and it will never be ashamed of the true gospel of salvation which delivers people out of their addictions to sin. And, it won’t have as its goal to make people feel good, but to lead them to Jesus as their Lord and master.
So, if we are truly blessing those who persecute us, we are going to say to them and do for them what is absolutely for their best good, and we are not going to trade tit for tat, or try to get even with them. But, what is best for them is Jesus and his gospel message for how they can be delivered out of their slavery to sin and be empowered to walk in his holiness. And, it is meeting their legitimate needs, such as for clothing, food, etc. But, sometimes it is counsel and encouragement to spur them on to do what is right and to not be lazy or rebellious, but to walk in the fear of the Lord.
And, as far as living peaceably and in harmony with others goes, we must know here that this never means compromising our faith, or our morals, or the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to live at peace and in harmony with others. For, we can’t be truly harmonious, in all respects, with those who are opposed to our Lord, but we can live peaceably with them, as much as it is within our power to do so. But, we never sacrifice truth or righteousness in order to be at peace with others, but we can always show kindness and love.
Romans 12:20-21 ESV
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
So, if people treat us wrongly, we treat them the right way. If they speak evil against us, we say to them what is for their good, in a way that is loving and kind. If they are mean and hateful to us, we do good to them in return. We don’t let them get to us. We don’t let their treatment of us take us out. Yes, it hurts to be mistreated. But, God can take that hurt and he can heal it. We just have to keep trusting our Lord through it all, believing that he is sovereign over our lives, and he truly is going to work this all out for good.
Pray, Pray, Pray
An Original Work / September 6, 2012
Based off Various Scriptures
Pray that eyes may enlightened be,
So they may know Christ.
Pray that they may Him better know,
Strengthened by His pow’r.
Pray that they may grasp
How wide and long
And high and deep
Is Christ’s love.
Pray that they may be filled
To the fullness of God’s love.
Pray with thanksgiving.
Pray for an open door for me,
So I may share Christ.
Pray when the gospel is proclaimed –
Shared with clarity.
Pray words are given me so
I declare the gospel fearlessly.
I pray for you to be active
Sharing your faith, too.
We oft not know for what to pray,
So we ask for help.
The Spirit intercedes for us –
Words cannot express.
Just keep on praying for the saints
With all kinds of requests to God.
Pray they may have faith to
Please their God in ev’ry way.
Pray with joyfulness.
Friday, May 3, 2019