Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
Today I’d like us to unpack verse 9. You can think of this verse as a heading for the verses from Romans 12:10-15:13. Think of it like this: The Christian, having found out what God’s love for him is like, ought to be able to love people as Christ loves them. Everything we do as followers of Christ must come from the heart of love. It can’t be fake; it must be genuine.
If we’re going to be sincere in our love, then it’s important that we understand what Paul means when he says “love.” Paul uses the word agape which means goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love. It is distinguished from the other types of love by it’s lofty moral nature and strong character. Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13. Agape is used to describe the love that is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself: “God is love (1 John 4:8).” God does not merely love; He IS love. Agape love is always shown by what it does. For example, the cross most clearly shows us what God’s love is like. “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4–5, ESV).” Agape love, as modeled by Christ, is not based on a feeling; rather, it is a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own.
Here’s something else you’ve got to understand: agape love does not come naturally to us. I wish it did, but it doesn’t. Because of our fallen nature, we are incapable of producing such a love. If we are to love as God loves, that love—that agape—can only come from it’s source. The kind of love Paul is calling us to have must be the distinguishing mark of Jesus’s disciples. This is why love begins the list for all that Paul says is embraced by the call to love.
This is also why Paul tells us that love must be sincere. Love is not something we do as some external act, as though it is disconnected from our inner being. To act one way on the outside and feel differently on the inside is fake; it’s hypocritical.
Paul’s telling us that if we’re going to behave like real Christians, then we must not have an imitation Christian love…let’s have real, genuine Christ-like love! This means that we must put away insincerity. How can we do this? One thing many people do is talk one way in front of a person, but bad mouth them as soon as they walk away. They may treat them in a loving way externally, but as soon as the person is gone, they treat them unlovingly. I know you’ve seen this done before…it’s wrong! It definitely is not the kind of agape love Paul is talking about; it is hypocritical. When Paul says “hate what is evil,” he probably means all attitudes and acts of un-love, malice, and hatred. We’re to turn from those kinds of things and cling to what is good.
The word for “cling” means to adhere, to cleave or to bond. Paul is telling us we’re to stick like glue to what is good—to every manifestation of supernatural love.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest. Romans 8-16 For You: For reading, for feeding, for leading (God’s Word For You – Romans Series Book 2, Keller, Timothy.