The world has lots to say and sing about love, but the world doesn’t know the first thing about it. There are those who claim to have spiritual gifts, but don’t know the first thing about them.
I Corinthians 12 is a major chapter on spiritual gifts and their use. Chapter 13 follows teaching that without love, spiritual gifts are useless. They bless no one, but simply puff up the people who claim to exercise them.
We see the same pattern in Romans 12. Verses 6-8 speaks about spiritual gifts followed by verses 9-16 on the topic of love. Christian workers who exercise their spiritual gifts must exercise them in love for the good of others; otherwise, they benefit no one.
The world is searching for love and integrity in the lives of those who claim to know Christ and who claim to exercise spiritual gifts. If we do not have love for those for whom we claim to minister, we are nothing but hot air and perhaps fanatics.
Love wins when nothing else will.
Though I Corinthians 13 is the major chapter in the Bible on the topic of love, we are presently studying love from the 12th chapter of Romans, So let’s examine now what Romans 12:9-16 has to teach us concerning love.
I. TRUE LOVE IS WITHOUT DISSIMULATION. Romans 12:9
That is, true love is without pretense. It’s not an act we put on. True love hates! It hates all that is evil. Did you hear that? A husband who loves his wife, hates any influence or person who would bring her harm. A father and mother who love their children, HATE any sinful influence that would bring harm to them. That would include the garbage on television. That would include the sinful, harmful influences of the wrong kind of schools. You don’t put up with it. You hate it passionately. You protect your impressionable children from it. That includes the wrong kind of colleges. Yes, your college-aged young people are still impressionable and many have been destroyed spiritually by colleges that reject or compromise the truths of Scripture.
The same goes with churches. If a church is harming you and your family with false doctrine and sinful influences, you separate yourself and your family from that church. You don’t stay with it, hoping that the evil influences will not affect your family. Romans 12:9 teaches us that we are to abhor (hate) evil and cleave to that which is good. That’s what it means to “let love be without dissimulation.”
II. TRUE LOVE IS EXPRESSED Romans 12:10
True love is expressed with kind affection. It is a brotherly, sisterly love. It is natural, and unforced. In fact, it is super-natural, given by God. It is not put on by drooling superficial piety.
III. TRUE LOVE IS CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS Romans 12:10
It involves preferring others before ourselves. It involves esteeming others better than ourselves, as Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:3-8 That’s not difficult when we consider that we are aware of more sin in our own lives than in the lives of others. Note in that passage how the Lord Jesus is the prime and perfect example of true humility.
IV. TRUE LOVE IS OBEDIENT TO GOD Rom. 12:11-12,
Love for Christ is our highest motivation for serving Him. We gladly sacrifice for Him and give Him our best.
V. TRUE LOVE IS A LIBERAL, SELF-SACRIFICING LOVE Rom. 12:13
Christians have needs. God promises to meet all our needs, but He uses sacrificial saints who give out of love, not simply for what they can get out of it.
VI. TRUE LOVE IS A HOSPITABLE LOVE Rom. 12:13
The early church, though persecuted and poor, gave out of their poverty.
Acts 2:44-47. What a wonderful example to us! Don’t forget the stranger. Hebrews 13:1-2. And yes, let us not forget to show love to our enemies. Romans 12:14
VII. TRUE LOVE IS A SYMPATHIZING LOVE Romans 12:15
That can only happen as we see situations from the viewpoint of others. Jesus wept with and for Mary and Martha for their brother Lazarus was dead. He didn’t have to weep for He knew He would raise him from the dead; nevertheless, He wept with these sisters for He saw things from their viewpoint. Read the story in John 11.
VIII. TRUE LOVE SEEKS UNITY OF CHRIST’S BODY Romans 12:16
The Holy Spirit who lives within the body of each Christian gives that unity. We are simply to endeavor to keep it by putting ourselves in other’s shoes and attempting to see situations from other’s viewpoint. We must remember that our ideas and positions are not always correct. Be open to correction.
IX. TRUE LOVE IN MANIFEST IN HUMILITY Romans 12:16
Though we may have high ideals and standards; we can condescend or slow down for those who are slower to catch on and learn and we can learn from others, even to those who are of low estate.
X. TRUE LOVE IS PEACEABLE Romans 12:18
As much as we have control of a situation, we are to live peaceable with all men: saved and unsaved. Certainly we ought to strive to live in understanding and peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
XI. FINALLY, TRUE LOVE IS PRACTICAL
It’s not enough to talk and sing about love. We must show it practically to others in physical or emotional need. Certainly we should help those in spiritual need by pointing them to Jesus who is the ultimate answer to every need.
God showed His love to us as undeserving sinners. Read Romans 5:8. Have you received that love? Have you received Christ as your Saviour? People are hungry for love all around us. Perhaps you are a new Christian and a new member of your church. What can you do for the cause of Christ? You can reach out in love to others and show Christ’s love to them.
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