If you identify with this, let me please make a plea to read on…
Whenever we adjust our behavior without understanding why, we run the risk of walking into legalism or dutiful habit, neither of which is close to what God intends for our life in Him. The goal in following Jesus is to ‘see’ what his new life in us looks like and to walk in it with our eyes fully open, understanding why we are empowered to make changes to become more like Him.
How Christians practice loving one another must be at the top of the list for new behaviours we should adopt. We know that loving one another is what we are supposed to do, in fact it is what we are supposed to want to do. But we often don’t do it, or don’t want to do it. It is hard to love everyone and, let’s be honest, not everyone is easy to love. So what does it mean to truly love one another?
Paul tackled this important subject when he wrote to the church in Rome:
Romans 12: 9-10
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
What can we learn from this passage about the call to love one another?
Love must be genuine
Literally translated, this phrase means ‘love must be without hypocrisy’. The ability to smile and feign Christian love to a person while inwardly feeling pretty neutral or negative about that person. Paul says true love begins with an authenticity audit – is it real? If not, stop faking it.
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good
Abhor is a very strong word for Paul to use. It means to regard with disgust and hatred.
detest, hate, loathe, despise, abominate, execrate, regard with disgust, shrink from, recoil from, shudder at, be unable to bear, be unable to abide, feel hostility/aversion to, find intolerable, dislike, disdain
Get the picture? Regard all evil with hatred and disgust, even in ourselves and with equal commitment, hold onto what is good.
Love one another with brotherly affection
Wow! Paul now gets radical. If any of his readers (or mine) believe Christian love is a duty to love people we find hard to like, then think again. Paul torpedoes any such misaligned thinking. Christian love is not the outward toleration of people who inwardly we find hard to like. Authentic Christian love is family love – like and love all mixed together. Authentically.
‘Love one another’ is the one Greek word ‘Philostorgos’ and this is the unique use of this word in the whole of the NT.
Philo = Love
Storgos = Family Affection
‘be devoted in tender, family affection’
C.E.B. Cranfield translates it like this:
“In your love for the brothers, show one another tender, affectionate kindness”
….and he writes of this verse:
‘…thereby making the tender, intimate affection as between members of the same family appropriate between members of the church.’ (Pg. 310)
So, devoted, affectionate family love, demonstrated authentically to each other, is the biblical norm for kingdom people. Wow!
Outdo one another in showing honour
Not happy to leave his teaching there, Paul continues with a challenge to add honour to family affection. His use of the word honour simply means to ‘place a high value or worth’ on the person, it literally means ‘price’. Chose to place a high price-tag on those you are seeking to love. They are more valuable than us, that is Paul’s point. Let’s out-perform one another in assuming that those we love have a higher worth and value than we do, because of all that Christ is doing within them.
Why do we grow to like and love our Christian brothers and sisters?
Because we are now family, and families love to celebrate the good, encourage strengths and forgive/cover weakness. It’s what true family is like.
To listen to Matt's full talk on Kingdom Love & Honour, click here.