Love Without Strings!
Eternal God, I thank You for ages past and ages still to come, for the wisdom of Scripture, and the means of grace.
Read Romans 12:9-21
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast … it is not easily angered” (1 Cor. 13:4,5). May we all love like that.
Love, sincere and without pretense, is the defining attribute of Christians in community; people loving one another with the devotion of a close family. The fact that Paul writes so often about the importance of loving one another tells us that his readers, like us, struggled with its practical outworking. He repeats his plea that we should “outdo one another in showing honor” (10, NRSV) as he paints a picture of Christian character in these verses. Is this what our churches and fellowships look and feel like? Do we know each other well enough to share with those in need, mourn with those who mourn, etc? Love is not easy, not this generous, self-sacrificing agape love. We have to work at it, sometimes practicing hospitality and sharing with people in need when we don’t feel love, praying that love will grow.
Paul extends the call to love even to those who persecute us, quoting Jesus (Matt. 5:44) and Proverbs 25:21,22. We know that the Christians of Rome did sometimes suffer serious persecution for their faith. There were tensions between these new churches and their neighbors, both Jewish and pagan, and harassment from local officials. But there were also tensions within the Roman churches, between Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, slave and master. So Paul calls them, as far as possible, to live at peace with everyone and to live in harmony with one another. Paul encourages positive and practical responses—bless, do what is right in onlookers’ eyes, feed your hungry enemies, and overcome evil with good (14-21). Some members of these churches (slaves, the poor) would have little means of redress when someone treated them badly, but now they could exercise love even as victims, just as their Savior did.
Read 1 Corinthians 13. Pray through these verses, maybe with specific individuals in mind. Pray for that kind of love.
Lord, give me love for those whose lot in life is much harder than my own, who live and die as though Christ had not come. May love reign in me.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.