Thomas R. Schreiner
Uncommon Traits of True Love (Romans 12:9-10)
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. ¹⁰Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:9-10
We read in the CSB translation of Romans 12:9–10, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Take the lead in honoring one another.” Love, it says, must not be hypocritical or fake. The word hypocrisy comes from the world of acting; this is a warning against pretending when we love. We can easily confuse flattery with love, for we may think we are loving because we are saying nice things. We may butter someone up when we’re face to face but stab them in the back when they aren’t with us. True love manifests itself in word and deed.
True love is also holy love. We read in verse 9 that we must abhor what is evil and hold fast, or cling to, what is good. Love must not be confused with sentimentality and warm feelings. Love doesn’t only express itself with a pat on the back or with an encouraging word. Love is holy so evil isn’t tolerated. Love might mean flunking the student who didn’t make the grade. Or, it might mean disciplining the church member who turns against the Lord and His commandments. Why is it so hard for us to understand this kind of love? It is because our culture doesn’t understand the holiness of God. They forget that God is a consuming fire.
True love is also family love. One of the striking things about the New Testament is that fellow believers are called “brothers” and “sisters.” We often take for granted the word “brothers” when reading the Bible. When we read the New Testament, we discover that believers didn’t call each other “friend,” or “fellow-citizen” or “fellow church member” but “brother” and “sister.” The church is a family. We belong to one another. Many people in our society view church like a club where dues are fulfilled, but what we often miss is that we are part of a family. That is why you should join a church. It signals your commitment to Jesus Christ and to the family of which you are a member.
The family character of the church is also reflected in the last part of verse 10. What it means to be in a family is to give precedence and honor to others. Pray for others to be honored more than you and praise God for their being honored. Ask God to give you a heart which is glad to see others praised and honored.
The love we're called to as Christians is utterly unlike the world's definition of love, and infinitely better.
Are you ever tempted to pretend you love someone because true love is sacrificial and costly?
Is the idea that turning away from evil is a loving action new to you?
Ask God to impress the worth of His love on your heart and empower you to love the way He has first loved you.
Thomas R. Schreiner is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and associate dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. A Pauline scholar, Schreiner is the author or editor of several books including Romans, in the Baker Exegetical Commentary Series on the New Testament.