Scripture Reading: Romans 12:9-10 (New International Version)
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.
Thought for the day:
It’s quite easy when reading daily devotions to take each one as a completely separate, distinct teaching but of course, the whole of Romans is one long letter and therefore almost everything is connected to the previous verses and links thoughts to the verses that are to come. Even though I’m only quoting one verse today, please bear in mind that it doesn’t stand alone, it is held up by everything that has been written previously. We ended last week with an understanding that we are all part of a body and that we exist to serve.
There is no coincidence that the very next verse begins with the word ‘love’. In our modern culture, the word ‘love’ is over-used, undervalued and misunderstood. We have legitimised things that are prohibited in the scripture under a banner of ‘love wins’. We explain away sinful behaviour, justifying it because ‘love can’t be wrong’. We get involved in all sorts of relationships that do not bring honour to God because we have an emotional ‘love’ for another person. I know that I have talked about this at length in previous devotions but it is sufficient to say here that we have redefined love in our own image instead of in the image of the One who created us. When we do that, nothing good comes as a result. It is in the context of service that the Paul mentions love. In other words, our acts of service should be conducted always in love and carried out with a loving and generous spirit.
The word translated here as ‘sincere’ is elsewhere translated as ‘genuine’ or ‘without hypocrisy’. The meaning behind it is that we shouldn’t pretend to love in our service. That’s a tough call. I’m sure that all of us at one time or another have done something for someone with a smile on our face but inside, we are groaning. Jesus calls us to not just love our brothers in Christ but also our enemies. That’s an even tougher call! The results of our service will be riding on the attitude in which we serve. Someone once said that ‘Your deeds speak so loudly that I cannot hear your words.’ Genuine, non-hypocritical, sincere love will speak for itself. Secondly, we are instructed to hate what is evil. It’s difficult to talk about hate and love in the same sentence but clearly there is something we need to learn otherwise Paul wouldn’t have been inspired to write these words. We can’t even use the word ‘hate’ without upsetting people these days. Of course, we are not being asked to hate people. We are to be discerning about genuine love and to abhor or detest whatever is not genuine.
Prayer and Application:
My prayer today is that we are completely filled with God’s love for others. May we detest whatever is evil and cling to all that is good.