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. - Romans 9:12-13
In this passage of Romans 12, Paul gives a list of commands on how to live as a church family in light of the unique kind of love Jesus has shown us. God intends to create a unique, set apart people and a culture marked by the same genuine kind of love found in Jesus.
Verse 9 tells us that love must be genuine. Each of the following commands expounds on the header: “Love must be genuine.” Genuine love is the starting point. We are motivated by the gospel: Jesus, the good shepherd, laid down his life for us. This, in turn, empowers us to love one another by laying down our lives in the way we love and serve.
Genuine love deals with sin together. (Romans 12:9)
God is holy. We are called to be holy—unique and set apart. To be holy is to cling to what is good and to reject what is evil. (Check out John 8:1-11, specifically vs. 11, for an example of how Jesus illustrates this command.) Genuine love empowers us to both love and accept sinful people where they are while pushing them to repent and change.
- Ask yourself where you need to repent. What might you need to confess? Our goal is to hate what is evil: Where are you off?
- Pray through how you can love somebody well this week by engaging them with love and truth and grace and help point them back to Jesus.
Genuine love puts other people’s preferences first. (Romans 12:10)
We love one another genuinely by taking a humble posture and the lowliest position. (See how Jesus models this in John 13:1-17). Genuine love is a sacrificial love that dies to self.
- Set aside your preferences and choose to like what someone else likes just because they like it. Ask someone in your Lifegroup, “What is your favorite thing to do and can I do it with you?”
- Set aside your preferences by choosing to do the dirty work. “Outdo in honor” means always finding a way to serve.
Genuine love fights apathy together. (Romans 12:11)
Jesus was never lacking in spiritual fervor. (Check out John 4:34) He was always motivated by doing the will of the Father. Our culture is setup to drift toward complacency and apathy. Because it is so easy to drift toward apathy, we must encourage one another to continue to grow, stay focused on Jesus, and continue to serve one another.
Practical Application: Fight apathy by encouraging one another. Think of someone that you can encourage this week: How have you seen God at work in their lives? How can you encourage them in the way they have been loving and serving those around them?
Genuine love suffers well together. (Romans 12:12)
Because Jesus has suffered on our behalf, it radically changes our perspective. (Check out Luke 22:29-71) It means that we can suffer well together because God gives us ultimate hope: that he is making all things new. One day all pain and suffering will cease to exist. Together we can rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and run to God in prayer as we wait for this day to come.
Practical Application: Who in your life is suffering? Who in your life is hurting? Commit to pray for them this week. Commit to support them, hold them up, and lift them to Jesus.
Genuine love lives generously. (Romans 12:13)
Mark 10:45 reminds us that Jesus’ entire life and death was a sacrifice. He gave everything away to invite us in. Jesus’ example is always our starting point for generosity. God wants to continue to rearrange our hearts and minds such that we are looking for ways to be able to give to others in need.
- Fight against the current. Live generously by opening up your wallet. This week, set aside money to bless someone.
- Live generously by opening up your home. Over the next two weeks, invite someone over to your house.
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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. - John 13:34-45