Romans 12:9-17 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
As I was reading this scripture, I thought, “Wow, those words are some good, very basic instructions that we should all be living out daily. I have to share this!” Paul is speaking here to the Roman Christians. Chapter 12 begins with instructions to present our bodies as a living, holy sacrifice acceptable to God. In these verses, He lists out behaviors that the Christian should adopt. As always, the first of these is love. Paul recognizes that love is the most important of the behaviors, and everything else grows out of loving others. Paul even points out that we shouldn’t pretend to love others. We have to really love them. If we truly learn to love like Christ loves us, all of the other behaviors listed will come naturally.
We are to hate what is wrong. Now this doesn’t give us the right or privilege to hate others. We can hate the behavior and hate the sin, but we are not to hate the sinner. Refer back to Paul’s first point. We have to love!. However, just because we truly love a person does not mean that we allow the sin in that person’s life to creep over into ours. We are not to accept sin as okay even when everyone around us is doing it. Don’t fall into the trap of letting yourself believe that something is okay when you know that it is not. Too many things of this world are being accepted as a way of life even though God’s Word teaches us differently.
Paul also tells Christians that we should love each other with genuine affection, and to delight in honoring each other. It does the body and mind good to bring honor to those around us. He also says that we shouldn’t be lazy. We have to work hard and serve the Lord. We have hands, and feet, and hearts designed for serving God and serving others. We must work hard in all that we do as if we are doing it for the Lord. We must rejoice in our confident hope. As Christians, no matter what we are going through, we can be confident in the hope of Christ Jesus. We have the hope of eternal life with Christ.
Be patient in trouble and keep on praying. I love that Paul put these two things together. I am guilty of not always being patient in times of trouble, and I’ve lost my patience more times than I’d like to admit, but I have learned to keep on praying through the troubles. It’s easy to try to handle our problems on our own. It’s human nature, but as we learn to let go and let God take over, we feel a freedom and sense of peace like never before. Give it to God. Pray, Tell Him your troubles, and just wait and see how big He is.
Paul also tells us to help God’s people that are in need, and to be ready to help. We should always be eager to practice hospitality. There are so many people in need. Some need help financially, some need a few groceries to get through the week, some need help around the house, and some just need a friend, someone to talk to, someone to show them the love of Christ, and let them know that they aren’t alone. Be that person. Be hospitable in all you do.
In verse 14, Paul gives us a tough behavior to follow. He tells us to bless those that persecute us. Say what? Paul must be crazy. He wants us to bless those that have wronged us. Again, I have to say, refer back to the first behavior: love. Christians have to love. We have the Spirit of the living God within us, so we must love…even those who hurt us, but not only that, Paul also tells us not to curse the ones that persecute us, but rather to pray for God to bless them. I’ll admit, this is a tough one. It’s not easy to bless someone who has harmed us, but if we talk to God about it, He will help us to find a way. He will give us forgiving hearts. Keep in mind that we are all sinners saved by grace. God forgave us of all of our mess ups, big and little. We aren’t any better than those who have sinned against us.
We should be happy for those who are happy. Share in their joy, but also weep with those who are weeping. When we share in the emotions of those around us, we show them that we truly care about them and we show the love of Christ. Paul also tells us to live in harmony with each other. Oh, that we could get this country to memorize and recite verse 16. The world is full of chaos, riots, strong opinions, and there is a complete absence of harmony, but as Christians, we must continue to strive to live harmoniously. Paul also adds that we shouldn’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people, and we shouldn’t think that we know it all. We should treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO of a large corporation, a CNA the same as a great physician, and so on. We will never know it all, and we should continue to strive to learn more daily, and I can assure you that I have gained a wealth of knowledge from a Certified Nursing Assitant back when I was first training to be a nurse, and I gained a wealth of knowledge from a wise physician when I was training to be a Nurse Practitioner. You have to be willing to learn from those who are willing to teach.
Do not pay back evil with more evil, and do things in a way that everyone can see that you are honorable. That’s Paul’s way of saying, “Y’all just be nice!” Follow the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Be nice, and then the next behavior is easy. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone! Don’t take revenge. Leave that to God.
Isn’t this some good stuff? These are some really good basic principles that if we each applied to our lives, our lives would be so much better. I wish that we could teach these principles in the schools and in businesses throughout our nation. At some point, we are going to have to turn back to God. Our nation has corporately turned its back on God. We aren’t living sacrificially for Him. We are too busy living for ourselves. One person can make a difference though. One person can make a difference in the life of one person, and that person can make a difference in the life of another, and the goodness and love of Christ can spread like a wildfire if only we would just learn to love like Christ….and learn to be nice!