ROMANS 12:9-21 “THE POWER OF LOVE”
Romans 12 marks a shift in focus in the book of Romans. Romans 1-8 lay the foundation for life in Christ.
Paul explains our standing before God as we respond to Him by faith … we are declared to be “in the right”. He then moves on to the place of the Spirit of God in changing us from the inside out. From Chapter 12 onwards, Paul begins to consider the place of the church in God’s plan. We are saved for a purpose … to take our place in a new faith community and express our new life in partnership with that community. We are blessed to be a blessing. All that God has done for us, is not just for us … it is so we might reach the world around us.
Romans 12 now addresses how that should take place.
- Romans 12:1 Total commitment … living sacrifices.
- Romans 12:2 Transformation through non-conformity and a change of thinking.
- Romans 12:3-8 Commitment to function … A normal church is a functioning church EVERY DAY! Paul’s advice is … if we have gifts then use them. We don’t need permission to use what we have in the community … we just need wisdom.
If this new faith community is to be successful in bringing life to a broken world, we need more than action, however. Good programmes alone will not change our world. Working harder will not necessarily make a difference.
Paul, now focusses on the key component we all need if the church is to really make a mark in our broken world.
Vs. 9 “Love must be sincere”
“sincere” = genuine, not feigned, not put on or an act. We all know what it feels like to experience insincere love. Someone reaches out to you with selfish motives. People reach out to you just for what they can get out of you, and then dump you when they no longer have a use for you. You become a “notch in someone’s belt” … a means to reaching their own personal objective.
This is NOT the kind of love that changes lives. Paul is demanding something better from us.
What should sincere love look like?
John 13:34-35 “A new commandment … love one another … as I have loved you. By this all men WILL KNOW that you are my disciples”
Love is the proof of WHO WE ARE & WHO JESUS IS.
“as I have loved you”
The proof of sincere love is “does it resemble the way Christ loves us?”
Am I loving as Jesus does? Does our church love as Jesus does? Only sincere love, proves the reality of Christ in our midst.
What should sincere love look like? How does “genuine, sincere, real” love behave? Paul now moves on to describe such love in action.
- Love really cares:
Vs.9 “Hate what is evil, cling to what is good”
On the surface this looks like we must become people who speak out against every wrong moral thing in society. BUT we need to look at what Paul is saying more carefully. “hate” means to “have a horror of … to abhor … to dislike … to have a strong internal reaction to”. “evil” does not refer so much to a moral quality. It basically means “everything that is hurtful, that brings pain or damage to others around us. Sincere love has an intense inner dislike for anything that brings pain, hurt or damage to others or to our world!
- Personal damage
- Environmental damage
- Social damage
Sincere love reacts to every form of injustice & seeks an answer for it.
“cling to what is good” … “cling” means to stick like glue to. Love causes us to cling strongly to everything that brings life. So love not only reacts … it acts. Genuine love sees pain, feels pain & acts to heal it. Sincere love sees injustice and acts to fix it. Jesus didn’t just see our need, he gave his life to provide the answer for it. This world is tired of words. A broken world does not want a church that talks … it wants a church that acts. Genuine love not only sees the need … it does something about it. It is the DOING that makes the difference. Genuine love feels the pain & takes action! Over and over we read of Jesus that he was “moved with compassion” and then he did something:
- He healed the sick
- He fed the hungry
- He touched the lepper
- He raised the dead
- He spoke to the woman at the well
- He blessed the children
- He cast out the demon
A Christian response to a broken world must be one of genuine love.
A love that closely resembles the love Christ has for us.
The only way this world will recognise the love of Christ is through the church.
Their picture of Him will be the one we paint!
What kind of love does this world need to see in us?
A love that sees and feels injustice and pain.
A love that takes action, not just speaks good sounding words.
A love that sees the need and does something to fix it.
Only a love of this nature will change the world in which we live.
To make a mark on this world we must love as Christ does!
Nothing less will do.