Romans 12:9 ESV
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”
This kind of love is to prefer what God prefers. It is to choose his choices. It is to prefer to live through Christ, embracing God’s will and obeying what he commands in his power and strength. It means we are actively doing what God wants for our lives by his power and direction. And what he prefers is what is holy, morally pure, upright, honest, trustworthy, and righteous.
This love must be genuine. We are not to attempt to fake it. Many people will claim that they love God but then they refuse to obey him, and they don’t choose his choices, but they go their own way, and they do their own thing, and they forget God, and they forget (willfully) his commands, and they continue in their sinful practices without conscience.
But to love God is to obey him. And to love others is to obey God and to do his will, and it is to prefer what God prefers, because love does no harm to another. So, genuine love will not deliberately and habitually and premeditatedly sin against God and against other humans. So, don’t call it love if you are habitually committing adultery via sexual idolatry and lust.
When we love with this kind of love, which comes from God, we will not only love (prefer) what God loves (prefers), but we will also hate what he hates. And he hates all sin, for sin is evil, and sin does not love, but it does harm to others and to ourselves. So, we are to abhor all that is evil, such as lying, cheating, stealing, slandering, gossiping, committing adultery and idolatry.
And we are to hold fast (cling to, hold on to, embrace) what is good, but good as defined by God and his word and not as defined by the world. For the world sometimes calls what is evil good, and they call what is good evil. So, good is whatever is right in the eyes of God. It is whatever is for our benefit, for our well being spiritually. It is whatever God prefers.
Romans 12:10 ESV
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
This love is to be among people who love God and who are following Jesus Christ with their lives, in practice, who are born into God’s family by spiritual birth. We are brothers and sisters in the Lord. And we are to love one another with that kind of family affection that we might have for a brother or a sister in our blood family into which we were born by natural birth.
So, we are to watch out for one another, care about one another’s needs, pray for one another, and help one another when in need, etc. We are to see ourselves as a family, and so we are to gather together regularly and share meals with one another, and fellowship with one another in the Lord and pray together and encourage one another in our walks of faith.
Romans 12:11 ESV
“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”
As followers of Jesus Christ we are to be fervent (passionate) about serving our Lord, doing what he says, going where he sends us, and using the spiritual gifts he has given to us for the building up of the body of Christ and for ministering God’s love and grace to the people of this world. We are not to get lazy and get caught up in the world and forget serving the Lord.
For, the Lord Jesus called each one of us for a purpose. He didn’t save us just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He has something for each one of us to do. He has given us spiritual gifts and he has assigned us our roles in the body of Christ. So, we need to seek his face and find out what he wants for us to do and then do it in his power.
Romans 12:12 ESV
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
What hope do we have? If we have trusted Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and we have thus died with him to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness, and we are walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, then we have the hope of eternal life with God, forgiveness of sins, and deliverance from slavery to sin.
We also have the hope of our God now living within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, and we have his strength, his power, his wisdom, and his guidance in serving him, and in loving him, and in loving other humans, and in walking in obedience to his commands, and in maturing in our walks of faith. He gives us all we need to live godly and holy lives pleasing to him.
He also gives us courage, strength, peace, and wisdom in trials and in tribulations. He helps us to know how to respond, what to do, and what to say. And he gives us the faith to endure. But we have to put all these things into practice in our daily lives. We have to put them on like spiritual armor. And we have to resist the devil whose aim it is to defeat us in battle.
Prayer is not just something we do before we eat a meal. It is not something we just do during a time of devotions. Prayer is open communication with God 24/7 to where we can talk with him and listen to him speaking to our hearts all throughout the day and night. For our relationship with him and our communications with him must always be two-way, not just one-way.
Romans 12:13 ESV
“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
This goes back to loving one another with a brotherly or sisterly affection, like we are all family. Now this is not talking about meeting people’s wants, but their needs, and needs are necessities (essentials), not luxuries. This is not saying that we can’t go above and beyond if God so leads and if God provides. We can be generous. But needs are essentials.
Also, we should exercise wisdom in determining what are true needs, also, for there are many people out there who are users who take advantage of the generosity of others, and who abuse that generosity. Some of them are professionals at manipulating and deceiving others. Thus, they prey on the naïve and vulnerable who have compassionate hearts.
For example, some people may say they need money for something that is a necessity, but then you might learn that they are wasting money on things that are not necessities, but that are luxuries, which is why they don’t have the money they need to pay their bills. So, the compassionate thing to do would be to help them with money management if they are willing.
There is that saying about fish: “It is better to teach people how to do something themselves than to just do it for them. This expression is just part of the full proverb, ‘If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day; If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.’” (writingsexplained.org)
So, be discerning. Be wise. Pray for wisdom and guidance in what to give and how much and to whom, because you want to end up doing what is for the good of others and it may not be for their good to just receive handouts when they may be able to do something to earn that money or to learn how better to manage their money. You might also end up feeding their sinful habits and could actually cause them harm, too, if you are not wise.
Lastly, we are to show hospitality to one another, which has been a little difficult these past two years with the pandemic and with the measures being taken by people in authority in connection with that pandemic. But as we are able, we should have people into our homes for meals, and if we and they are believers in Jesus, then it should be for Christian fellowship, too.
All I Ask of You
by Andrew Lloyd Webber
No more talk of darkness,
Forget these wide-eyed fears;
I’m here, nothing can harm you,
My words will warm and calm you.
Let me be your freedom,
Let daylight dry your tears;
I’m here, with you, beside you,
To guard you and to guide you.
Let me be your shelter,
Let me be your light…
Love me, that’s all I ask of you
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The above lyrics are taken from a secular song, “All I Ask of You,” but these quoted lyrics express God’s words to us, that we would let him be our freedom, that we would let him shelter us and be our light, and that we would find our hope, and our peace and safety in him and not in the things of this dark world. All he asks of us is that we love him, which means we submit to him as Lord, and we obey his commands.