Sunday: Romans 12:8, 9
v8: A person called to exhort will grow in their capacity to encourage believers and unbelievers to repent and have faith (1Ti 4:13-15). A person called to give will become more generous and experience less internal conflict when giving (2Co 8:1-5). A person called to lead will become increasingly decisive and lead energetically without growing weary or discouraged. And finally, a person called to show mercy will do so graciously and gladly. v9: Having encouraged us to fulfill God’s call on our lives, Paul turns to address the quality of our relationships, because if believers can’t work together harmoniously all he has just said about the church functioning as an interdependent “body” falls apart.
Monday: Romans 12:9
v9 (continued): The remaining chapters of this letter reveal that there were numerous areas of controversy among believers in Rome. Differing opinions were separating friends, quenching love, and enflaming pride. They urgently needed to restore their love for one another because a loving community is the foundation from which all ministry flows. So, much of these final chapters is Paul’s pastoral (apostolic: Ro 15:15, 16) counsel to them about how to resolve issues that were dividing them.
Tuesday: Romans 12:9
v9 (continued): In chapters 12-16 Paul addresses the Roman church as if he were their pastor, which is a bit awkward since he had never even visited the city, at least not during his years as a Christian minister (Ro 1:13; 15:22). He was the founding pastor of many other churches so his right to teach and even issue commands to them was natural and obvious. But not in Rome. Yet in these churches we hear him address the spiritual needs in Rome with authority. Aware of this awkwardness he later points out that he has the right to do this because of his call as an apostle to the Gentiles (Ro 15:15, 16). At least with respect to the Gentiles present in those churches, if not the believing Jews, he has the God-given authority to speak to them in this way.
Wednesday: Romans 12:9
v9 (continued): Beginning in verse 9 and running down though verse 17 Paul gives a series of brief commands, each of which targets a specific area of need. He addresses divisions between believers, declining zeal, the inner disciplines needed to persevere under persecution, how to respond to the practical needs of those who have become impoverished (e.g. widows, sick, homeless) and how to react to the abuse that comes from a hostile society. The first thing he says is, “Don’t pretend to love!” He uses a very common Greek word which we still recognize today, “hypocrite.” It was a term the Greeks used for an actor in the theater.
Thursday: Romans 12:9
v9(continued): Jesus Himself used the word to describe people who pretend to love God, but really don’t (Mt 6:2, 5, 16; 6:16; 7:5; 15:7; 22:18; 23:13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 28, 29; 24:51; Mk 7:6; 12:15; Lk 12:1; 12:56; 13:15). In this sense a hypocrite is someone who pretends to be someone else. They pretend emotions they don’t feel, they say words they don’t believe, they behave in ways that don’t represent their heart. It’s the absence of integrity. We also need to note which Greek word Paul uses for love. There are several options from which to choose and he uses a couple of these in the next few statements. But here he uses that unique word (agape) that Christians coined to describe the selfless love Jesus modeled for us. It’s not the word for friendship or romance or even the deep commitment families may have for one another. It’s a selfless love that puts others first. It’s the “new commandment” to “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). This pure form of love, Paul says, must be genuine.
Friday: Romans 12:9
v9 (continued): Paul follows this command with two more which clarify his meaning. He adds, “If something is evil, openly despise it (literally, shudder because you hate it so much), if something is good, cling to it (literally, as if you were glued to it). In other words, don’t pretend to be indifferent about things that are truly evil, abhor them. And don’t hide your feelings about things that are truly good, openly affirm your commitment to them. He’s inviting us to be forthright and honest because such honesty is essential if believers are going to trust one another, and trust is essential for a community to genuinely love one another.
Saturday: Romans 12:10, 11
v10: His next command is, “In brotherly love, love one another like family!” His choice of words implies that we should cherish one another as deeply as if we were related to one another by the family ties of flesh and blood. Then he adds, “In honor prefer one another!” He wants us to prefer that the needs of others be attended to before our own (Php 2:3, 4). Undoubtedly one of the areas where Paul hoped the Roman church would apply this counsel was the cultural separation between Jews and Gentiles (Ro 15:2-9). v11: Tensions with the church and persecution from outside the church had tended to leave believers weary and passive, so Paul says, “In zeal serve the Lord, don’t become inactive (slow to act, lazy) but keep burning in spirit!”