Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil and cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
This week we have been looking at the traits of authentic Christian community. Here in Romans chapter 12, Paul paints a beautiful word picture of what authentic Christian community should look like. He begins by writing, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” Authentic Christian community is marked by a deep devotion to one another. The word that is translated as “devoted” here carries with it the thought of honoring another.
Some other words that have the same meaning are loyal, faithful, true, committed, and dedicated. Paul is saying that in authentic Christian community, people are deeply committed to one another. This means that through good times and bad, Christians will remain loyal to one another out of their commitment to Christ and their commitment to one another. The basis for this devotion is their love for Christ and their love for each other.
It is so heartbreaking when you hear about a church that goes through a split. It causes you to wonder if they ever were truly devoted to one another in brotherly love. Paul goes on in this passage to identify several more traits of authentic Christian community. This kind of community is marked by a high level of honoring others. It is also marked by generosity, hospitality, unity, and humility. Of course, underlying all of this is God’s prevailing attribute of love. It is God’s love that initiates and motivates all of these other traits. Without love, “I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal.” Dr. Scroggie says it like this: “Language without love is noise without melody.” J.V. McGee writes, “Chatter without charity is sound without soul.” Love gives meaning and depth to everything! Without love we are just an irritating noise.
Questions to Ponder
How committed are you to your spiritual family? Do you run away from your spiritual family at the first sign of trouble? What are you really devoted to? Have you truly experienced God’s love for yourself? How does your love for Christ show in the church? In your family? In the world?
Spend some time in prayer meditating on what God revealed to you today.