Paul in Romans 12 tells us what real love looks like. Broadly speaking, Paul describes love by what it does in several areas:
Real Love Clings to the Good
Our culture is reluctant to identify things that are intrinsically good or evil. Our culture has become morally inverted, like what Isaiah described. (Isaiah 5:20)
Our culture needs to see professing Christians who “hold fast” to what the Bible calls “the good” – That is to join ourselves inseparably to a way of living. We must first recognize and abhor evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 commands believers to “avoid every kind of evil.” That means I determine not to grant evil access to my life or that of my family.
Paul tells us in Romans 12:10 how holding fast to the good will play out in our lives.
Real Love Honors Others
When we serve and honor others, we serve and honor the Lord.
- We will not always be people who insist on our own personal preference and rights. (1 Corinthians 13:5)
- We will look for every opportunity to affirm and build up one another.
Real Love Perseveres
Our love from God and for God enables us to persevere through trials with hope. Even when a believing loved ones die, we grieve not in despair, but in hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). As we experience pressure because the world hates us - Allow that pressure and our love for God and our brethren to drive us constantly back to prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).
Real Love Blesses Others
The deference we are to show is not limited to believers - It is for those who oppose us (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27–28). This requires verbal and spiritual self-discipline. As believers, we are always on display. 2 Corinthians 5:20 calls us “ambassadors for Christ”. We are to keep that in mind, even in times of the worst persecution.
Real Love Empathizes
When we empathize with the joys and sorrows of our fellow believers, realize that it portrays a trait that will draw the unbeliever toward Christ and glorifies God. John 13:35
Legit Love Refuses to Retaliate
There are certainly times when it is permissible to meet violence with violence in both the defense of our families and in service of the state. On a personal level, however, Jesus calls his disciples to a kingdom ethic of non-retaliation.
When vs 18 says, “so far as it depends on you,” it implies that there may be times when we will be unable to live at peace with others. Obedience to God’s commands may put us at odds with others. But our behavior is never to be out of a spirit of retaliation or vengeance.
God is not blind to those circumstances when people treat you poorly. Take comfort that God will in the end not allow evil to triumph. Romans 12:19
In other words, do good… even to those who are nasty toward you. We can be confident that God has providentially placed each of us into the lives of unbelievers for a purpose. The way we respond to poor treatment has a true impact on them, either solidifying their cynicism or, at least on some level providing a wake-up call. You may be the instrument God uses to open their eyes. Romans 12:20–21