This week in First15 we’re going to take a look at seven principles found in Romans 12 that describe the marks of a true Christian. The intent of studying this passage is not to condemn or lead you to comparison. Instead, let Paul’s teaching fill you with a deep, transformative longing to wholeheartedly pursue the life God intends for you. Ask God to help you see yourself as he sees you, to see the grace he’s placed upon your life by the blood of Jesus so that you might walk more fully in the power and anointing of the Spirit. May you discover God’s grace and perspective this week as you examine your life in light of this powerful passage of Scripture.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” ROMANS 12:9-10
For The One | Jenn Johnson
Paul begins his description of what it looks like to be a true disciple of Christ in Romans 12 with a foundational phrase for this passage: “Let love be genuine.” Genuine love is one of the most powerful forces in all of creation. Genuine love drove Jesus through his life, death, and resurrection. Genuine love started the advance of the gospel, leading to the salvation of billions. The world tirelessly searches for genuine love. And it is genuine love that is meant to set you and me apart as disciples of Jesus. Scripture says in 1 John 4:7-11:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Paul sums up his beautiful description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:13 this way: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” And Jesus, when asked what the greatest commandment is, said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
You were created to give and receive love. Love is your highest calling. God has set you apart to minister to others, sharing the genuine love you’ve been shown. It’s only in living for love that you will truly find peace and purpose. It’s only in the giving and receiving of genuine love that you will feel whole and satisfied. The Bible is clear about God’s plan for you. God intends to pour his love out over you to the level of overflowing, enabling others to get a glimpse of his vast love for them through your life.
So, how can you be a person who shows genuine love to those around you? What does a life lived for love look like? It starts with spending time daily encountering the vast ocean of God’s love for you. In John 13:34, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” The disciples could only love each other because they had experienced firsthand the incredible love of Jesus. You will not be able to love genuinely if you aren’t receiving God’s love for yourself. You must take time every day to simply encounter the love of your heavenly Father. His love is designed to lay the foundation for the good works you do. He never intends for you to give what you haven’t received. Romans 12:9-10 proves to be great instruction for living a life of genuine love. Paul writes, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Choose to engage in good over evil. Fill your life with all that is good. Show grace and respect to others because that is what your heavenly Father has done for you. Live a life of outdoing those around you in showing love and honor.
God has chosen to reveal his love to the world through your life. He’s committed to using you to bring others to himself. And he has a perfect plan to mold and shape you through his love into a person who naturally shows genuine love to others out of the overflow of God’s love in your own life. You don’t need to place the weight of others’ salvation on your shoulders. Instead, encounter the love God has for you today. Let his perspective of you change the way you see yourself and others. And simply love those around you with the love you’ve been shown. Choose to live a life of genuine love today and find out just how broad, long, high, and deep is the love of Christ for both you and others around you (Ephesians 3:18-19).
1. Spend time receiving God’s love for you. Ask him to make his nearness known to you. Let his presence fill up the places of your heart that need a fresh encounter with him.
“That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19
2. Ask God to give you a fresh revelation of how he sees you. Ask him to mold and shape you into the person he would have you be. Allow his grace and love to transform your heart.
3. Now ask the Spirit to help you show genuine love to others. Who around you needs to be genuinely loved by you today? Who needs to be shown honor and respect? Let the love that you’ve received fill you with the desire and power to love others well.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34
Extended Reading: 1 John 4 or watch The Bible Project’s video on 1-3 John.