9Let love be without hypocrisy Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
12rejoicing in hope, (persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly Do not be wise in your own estimation.
17Never pay back evil for evil to anyone Respect what is right in the sight of all men.
18If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
19Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.
20″BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”
21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This is it! The message of the gospel. It’s all about love. Now, don’t get confused. Some may look at this as a list of rules. It’s just examples.
I’m thinking of times I’ve heard (including from myself) “I just can’t possibly do that” in reference to loving people the way Paul explains here. It’s quite a feat to love someone who has slighted you, isn’t it? Do not forget “With God, all things are possible.”
I’m starting to see how these things all tie together. As we align ourselves with God’s will, things like this become more natural. I mean, looking at where I’ve come from, I still have quite a ways to go, but I’m a bit different now. If someone comes up to me and starts swinging, I’m quite sure there will be a fight. Admittedly, I’m not wholly at the “turn the other cheek” stage in my relationship with God, but I must say, I’m noticing a difference in how I react if and when people slight me.
Heck, I used to preemptively slight others before they had a chance to do it to me! that old man still rears his head now and then but thanks to God, I’m seeing victory over it. The point in today’s passage is that if it’s without love, it’s without God. God IS love. He is the source of love. Without him, there is no love in us or for us. Paul here is telling us what that looks like. He’s explaining that now that God is with us (and for us), this is how we align ourselves with Him. His will is for us to behave this way. If we take that step and make the effort, He will give us the strength to carry it out. This is why it isn’t easy, our sinful nature rebels against this kind of behavior. Yet, this behavior glorifies Christ and strengthens us as Christians.
Where does your life lack this kind of love?