Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (NIV)
Love is the essence of generosity.
We cannot be givers unless we first are willing to be people who are loving. We recognize this. It was what we talked about Sunday and throughout this week. However, to truly understand what it means to love generously we need to take a deeper look at this passage from Romans 12:9-13.
When we think of Paul and love, we immediately turn to the well-rehearsed lines of 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is a whole list of descriptors that talk about the depths of love. Yet, these words from Romans 12:9-13 are, perhaps, Paul’s deepest expression of what it means to love. What Paul expresses is a framework for love. If 1 Corinthians 13 is Paul’s sentimental view of love, then Romans 12:9-13 is his expressions of love lived out through grace.
Love must be sincere. It cannot be false. It cannot be used to gain advantage over someone. Love must be generous in its nature, by holding onto a deep commitment to the other person, whether it is someone we know or do not know.
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Love seeks after justice and cares for the common good of all people. Love does not cheer for the downfall of those who hurt us, but prays for their spiritual transformation and repentance.
Love is devoted to one another in brotherly love. Love is about connection. We cannot love someone who we do not have a relationship with. Love call us to recognize that we are all in this together. We each share a common connection based upon the fact that we are made in God’s image. Love brings us together and unites us around our shared moments.
Love reminds us to stay committed to the Lord and serve God with zeal and spiritual fervor. Love is the essence of generosity, but it is also the key to serving the kingdom of God. If our service is not grounded in our love of God and others then we are missing something. Our involvement in the church cannot be about ourselves, or fulfilling our own personal needs. Ministry must be about our love of God and of others.
Love calls us to be generous to those in need and to practice hospitality. Love reaches out. Love calls us to go to those who need help and welcome them into our lives and to partner with them. We do not share acts of generosity as a one-time act and then end our connection. Instead, we are called to practice continual acts of hospitality where we seek to build relationships with those who we are in ministry with.
Love is about generosity. Generosity is love. Everyday we have the opportunity to live out Paul’s expression of love in how we care for our families and the world. How will you do so today?