This is written by Matt Coombs. He is married to Pip, on the leadership team of St Mary's and responsible for all things pastoral.

Romans 12:9-21

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practise hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

'If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.'

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


Genuine love is the deepest theme in this section of Romans with a few instructions for what this might look like. Paul uses the highest form of the word love available to him, agape, which is often used to describe how God loves people. In the greek there are lots of different words of love, which would be quite useful, because I love my wife, but I also love my dad, and loving them the same way would be weeeeeirrrd!!!

If we’re honest, sometimes our love can be self-serving. For example, romantic love can sometimes be oriented towards fulfilling one's personal needs for sex or security and not the others.

The love Paul speaks of is not like that.

This love is genuine, empathetic, open, present, steadfast, honouring and faithful.

For Paul, love is practical, and has a moral orientation towards the good. So genuine love is not just being nice to people. It's not simply to cater to specific likes and dislikes of that person. Instead, it is to act toward them in ways that help them experience something of God's goodness.

JUST DO IT! (Unnecessarily aggressive subtitle…give it a moment)

"Don't be over come by evil, but overcome with good." (v21) This word to overcome is niko (conquer) which Greeks would associate with their goddess Nike (Mmm mmm). They believed that peace was only possible if Rome conquered their enemies. But Paul uses the same word calling Christians to triumph over evil not by force, but by a life of hospitality and compassion.

What would it look like to love your friends/colleagues/flatmates in a way that leads them to experience the goodness of God?
Who do you know who needs to be invited over for dinner or taken out for a coffee and a chat?
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