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Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (NKJV)

(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)

At the end of the 12th chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul gives us a rapid fire behavior checklist. It’s not a legalistic checklist by which we judge “good” Christians from “bad” Christians. It is a list of things by which we can measure our own personal standards, our own personal behavior and our own personal growth. It is a list to help us to grow, to add new Godly behavior to our lives, and to help us prune behavior that doesn’t comply.

At this point in Romans, Paul has spent a lengthy time explaining salvation. In chapter 12 he opens by urging us to be “living sacrifices” for God and to use our God-given spiritual gifts to serve the Lord. In typical Paul fashion, he cuts to the chase, and follows with a no-nonsense list of behaviors that are befitting a “living sacrifice”. Let’s take a look (Romans 12:9-21):

Let love be without hypocrisy.

True love is not selfish, it is not done to benefit “self”; it is done to benefit others without expectation of repayment or reciprocation. Things done in love are without selfishness, hidden agendas or strings attached (1Cor 13.4-13)

Abhor what is evil.

Hate sin. Why? Because sin is opposite of the God who created you (Prov 6.16-19), and the Savior who died for you. Sin destroys lives. Sin causes people to go to hell for all eternity (Col 3.25; John 5.29). Sin is the reason for every pain, hurt, disappointment and regret. Don’t just have a negative opinion of sin… hate it!

Cling to what is good.

To “cling” is to put forth an active effort to keep hold of something. Reach out and hold on to what is good. Even when the world and popular opinion make it difficult, don’t let go of what is good. You have to work hard to hold on to good. The spiritual forces of darkness are relentlessly trying to pull it from your grasp (Eph 6.12).

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love,

Another act of selflessness. Showing love towards other, being affectionate and compassionate… this separates the Christian from the rest of the world who are mainly looking out for themselves. This love should be without favoritism, not based on looks, talent or wealth (James 2)

in honor giving preference to one another;

The world would have you to believe that you must look out for yourself first. As Christians, we honor others over ourselves. We prefer the well being of the other person first. This is so completely opposite of the world, that it becomes a distinct identifying trait of Christianity.

not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

The Christian life is valuable and worth our best efforts. God has saved us and that should produce enthusiasm in our life. “Fervent in spirit” literally means “to boil” giving us a picture of heat and activity. A Christians life should be marked by conscientious, enthusiastic service.

rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;

Christians of all people are marked by hope (Psalms 146.5). No matter what happens in this life, Jesus is returning to take us to heaven for all eternity! We have hope! This allows us to patiently endure suffering knowing that there is nothing that can happen to us in this life that can take away our hope for the next. Our hope is sustained by communication with the Source of Hope (Rom 15.13). Consistent and ongoing prayer increase our hope and our patience.

distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Christianity is a life of service, not just words (James 1.21-26). The world sees Christ because we help each other, take care of each and look out for each other. We are kind and giving and friendly. God gives us money, homes, food and resources so that we might be kind and loving towards others.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

This is one of the hardest but most extraordinary traits of a Christian. It goes completely opposite of what the world teaches, and completely opposite of what we feel like doing. There are times when a Christian must ignore how he feels when suffering at the hands of others, and just obey God by blessing those who are doing the hurting. We can take great encouragement in doing this because it is such an obvious sign that God is working in our lives.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

This is being sensitive to what others are going through. This is caring about what others are going through (1Pet 3.8). We don’t live in a vacuum. There are hurting people all around us, saved and unsaved, who need our sympathy and understanding. And how much more enjoyable is a time of joy and celebration when it is shared with others? This is another act of selflessness, because we are to put aside how we feel in consideration of how others feel.

Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.

Don’t show favoritism. Don’t be haughty and become trapped into valuing what the world says is important. We are not to seek friendships and associations based solely on how it benefits us. We are to be the friend of the humble, the lowly, the poor… not just the “beautiful” people of the world.

Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Don’t feel superior (Jer 9.23). Sin can destroy anyone. You are no different. You can be sick, homeless, poor and abandoned just like anyone else. If you are enjoying some success in life, it is only because of God’s grace, not your ability or intellect. Be careful to not think too highly of yourself (Prov 28.26).

Repay no one evil for evil.

Do not seek revenge (Prov 20.22). That is the Lord’s business. We know that all people reap what they sow (Gal 6.7), and the God will enforce perfect justice according to His timing. We should never seek to “get even”, nor to enjoy it when people finally do reap a bitter harvest.

Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.

Become a person who is known to love what is good, who seeks good and stands up for what is good. This sounds rather simplistic but stop and think about how many people you know who fit this description. Can you think of many people who are trademarked by their striving for what is good? The vast majority of people seek what is good for them rather than seeking truly good things simply because it honors God.

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

We are to do everything possible to be at peace with others. Christians are identified as those who do everything within their ability to live in peace. True peace is living life according to God’s Word. Sometimes peace is not possible, but it should never be from our lack of effort.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

Again, God will take care of correcting wrongs (1Thess 5.15). God is the perfect Judge and He will execute divine judgment with perfection. We don’t have to live our lives worrying about whether wrong will be punished. It will.

Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

Our enemies are humbled and shamed when we repay their hatred with kindness. Even when they aren’t shamed, God is glorified by our obedience and example of love. It is easy to love and serve those who are kind to us. A true sign of Christianity is when we are able to show kindness to those who mistreat and harm us (Prov 25.21).

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

God is on our side. Evil cannot overwhelm us. Oh, we will suffer some injuries that’s for sure, but in the end, good (God) will always triumph. The Christian life is a life of overcoming this sin-cursed world, of triumphing despite evil and opposition. Never lose heart. God always wins.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Whew! Paul manages to get a lifetime of things to learn and work on in about a dozen verses. I guess that will be enough for one morning!

Father, Help us to learn and live a life that is pleasing to you, and honoring to Jesus who made it possible! In Jesus Name, Amen.

Contemplation: Does your life reflect this list? Do you seek to add Godly behavior to your life or just try to make sure that what you are doing is not sin?

Application: The Christian life is not just an effort to not sin. It is also an effort to increase Godliness. This list that Pauls gives us is one of the most comprehensive in all the Bible concerning proper Christian behavior. It will do us well to learn it, meditate on it, and take it as our personal standard.

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

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