Romans 12 is one of the many rich passages of Scripture recorded in God’s Word. This chapter begins with the practical outworking of the great plan of salvation and ends with chapter 16. This chapter presents one of the finest summaries of Christian duties found in the Scriptures. In this chapter we want to notice the expressions of love that are listed there and allow our lives to be challenged in our everyday life.
Our source of love is God. Verse 1 mentions God’s mercy, and because of His mercy, we can be His children and need to allow His love to be shed abroad in our hearts. In verses 3-8 we have the church being compared to the human body; the body having different parts, and how these different parts are to function. Love is the oil or element that helps each part to work together smoothly. Verse 9 says “Let love be without dissimulation,” (without hypocrisy).
1. In verse 10 we find the first expression of love, that being “affectionate love”—This love is one that binds our hearts together. It is a love where kindness is shown, longsuffering with one another. This kind of love knits the body of Christ together. “The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David; and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1Samuel 18:1). Let this example be a challenge to us when little hurts come between us or when walls tend to be built. This kind of love will keep us pulling together and church life can run smoothly.
2. Verse 10 also mentions “respectful love.” “In honor preferring one another.” respectful love calls for an attitude of humility. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5). Thinking of or putting others first is what respectful love is all about.
3. “Liberal love” (verse 13) “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” This kind of love involves sharing food and a meal when someone is sick. Helping in a building project when someone suffers loss through fire or storm is another way. It may mean adding a little more water to the soup when someone knocks at your door unexpectedly. We need to willingly and cheerfully put into the offering basket when it is passed. “The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Proverbs 11:25).
4. “Sympathizing love” (verse15) “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Romans 15:1-“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves,” but glorify God. Someone may be going through a struggle or difficulty that needs a word of encouragement, a hand on the shoulder, or a fervent prayer on his behalf. Let us do our best to share God’s love in this way.
5. “United love” (verse 16) “Be of the same mind one toward another.” This love helps us to fit in when we don’t agree with the majority. It helps us to think together, believe together, and work together. The song “When we all pull together, how happy we’ll be” is often thought of as a children’s song. But how much smoother could some of our church meetings be if we would practice these words.
6. “Condescending love” (verse16) “Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.” condescending love reaches down to the lowest of men or women, the less fortunate, those who do not have as we have, the man beside the road who needs help, the drunkard on the street, the elderly lady on the interstate standing by her car with a flat tire, etc. If we see she has a cell phone, do we just sail on by? remember this is the kind of love Jesus had when we came to Him.
7. “Peaceful love” (verse 18) “... live peaceably with all men.” Sometimes this may seem impossible, but remember we are christ’s example and need to strive to do our part. “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear (2 ears), slow to speak (1 tongue), slow to wrath. For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 3:19&20).
There are many other Scriptures that could be used with these expressions of love that would help us to be difference makers in the world in which we live.