Week 17 - Romans 12:9-10

Week 17 – Romans 12:9-10:  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.
One profound and highlighted New Covenant characteristic is certainly love, but Jesus calls for a deeper, Spirit filled kind of love instead of mere external affection.

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34)

Genuine love is Jesus’ love. He is perfect, and perfection comes from a pure and genuine heart (see Matthew 5-7). Therefore, His love is the only genuine love that exists (1 John 4:7-21). If love is to be genuine, it must come from Him. The instruction from Paul that starts a section on true Christianity starts with love. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul highlights love as necessary for even spiritual gifts to bear any fruit. Love is also good, because God is good, and God is love. The flipside of that would be hatred from an evil heart. The idea is to value and walk in what is good as defined by God while using hate in relation to how you view evil. While hating things that are evil, we must remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12) but against the evil forces at work in the cosmic places. Genuine love then finds its fullness in Jesus by loving those held captive by evil as well as those that have been set free from bondage to it. Enemies become objects of genuine love through the presence of Jesus in His people. They now love evil people while hating sin. Hating sin allows God’s people to not join others in their sin but to love them in hopes that they may be set free from sin.

Next, verse 10 directs our attention from love in general to love specifically. The words for love here signify a familial type of brotherly love. This is love we would find among siblings and parents toward their children. This is a household atmosphere of love. This is an affection characterized by being in the family of God. The way that love in the kingdom of God is most often described is as a selfless type of love. This would stand in stark contrast to the world’s love which proves to be self-serving and never sacrificial. Love in the family of God is motivated by the Gospel. For God so loved the world that He gave… (John 3:16) and you know the rest. This is a more general type of benevolent love, but it still illustrates what love is. Jesus laid down His life for His brothers (1 John 3:16) to demonstrate there is no greater love than doing whatever is necessary for the highest possible good of those in your family. Brotherly love characterizes the early church as they sell what they must to meet needs of fellow brothers (Acts 4:34-35), or as a Gentile group of believers sends relief to a famine-stricken group of Jewish believers (Acts 11:29). Paul gives us further instruction on what this looks like by telling us to “outdo one another in showing honor.” If you want to reword that, you could literally say “be the first to point out the value of a brother or sister.” This goes right along with the principle in Philippians 2:3-4 to “count others more important than ourselves” and “look to the interests of others.” And who does Paul use as an example for that?

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Php. 2:5-8)

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