Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Romans 12:9-21

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Take the lead in honoring one another. 11 Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.

20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. 21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

The Original Intent

1) What characteristics of God’s heart is Paul highlighting?

The Greeks maintained a strong focus on character. For the Greek, right relationships among people were supremely important because this evidenced justice. They viewed justice as the result of people who demonstrated prudence, temperance, and fortitude. In today’s language we label these characteristics as discernment, balance, and courage. 

Understanding how these virtues played a large role in ancient culture helps us appreciate Paul’s perspective in teaching on similar virtues in this passage such as love (verse 9), hope (verse 12), peace (verses 16-17), and goodness (verse 21). These concepts would have been familiar territory for the culture of his first audience, but Paul took their common understanding and moved it much deeper as He related these characteristics to an outpouring of God’s Spirit at work in the believer’s everyday life.

Christians weren’t meant to live as good citizens because of Greek culture, but because the heart of God moved within them by the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:16) If we reference Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we see that sacrificial, divine love is the cornerstone for all other virtues. (1 Corinthians 13:13) In his letter to the Galatians, Paul emphasized that even though all virtues are tied to love, we cannot love, or consistently reflect God’s holy character without the work of the Spirit in us.

When we surrender to Him, however, He cultivates His good fruit in us, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) In his letter to the Philippian believers, Paul writes, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

The Everyday Application

1) What characteristics of God’s heart is Paul highlighting?

Personal values drive our decisions in everyday life. If we value honesty, we will seek to be honest and we’ll have a sense of injustice when others are dishonest. Christ-followers are instructed to build our value system from the Word of God because it reflects God’s heart and His character, which has never changed. (Hebrews 13:8)

When we cling to biblical values, not because they build a strong culture (though they do!), but because they reflect the heart of the God who gave Himself for us, we have entered into a lifestyle of worship. 

Read Paul’s words again in this passage through the lens of practical-lived-out-worship. What new insights do you gain? Does it seem less like a “to do” and more like a “get to”? When we live out God’s heart for us in real, everyday life, we are fighting against a culture that says, “me first”.

Living out worship points others to Jesus in a world where immorality and self-love reign supreme. Read Paul’s words again and make a list of virtues and actions that flow from those virtues. How can we put these into practice? By asking the Holy Spirit to build and strengthen these within us as we commit to surrendering to His work in us!

When we are honest, kind-hearted, compassionate, patient, and love the “hard to love”, Christ’s love shines through us into the dark world around us. Instead of loudly debating for the sake of being right, our choice to speak, serve and care with gentleness voices Jesus’ love far louder than “winning” an argument. (1 Peter 3:15-17)

Let’s be people who exhibit God’s character by fleeing sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18-20), acting kindly (Galatians 6:10), and carrying one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:20) that others might see Jesus in us!

The Original Intent

2) How is the Christ-follower to cultivate these characteristics in their own lives and why is this important?

Paul’s original recipients of this letter were Christians living in Rome who suffered persecution from ruling authorities. This context is important to remember as it highlights the intense cost of loving one’s enemies as Christ loved us. These instructions were not “good ideas” Paul crafted, these were attributes lived out by the Lord Jesus Christ. His followers were called to live in a way that honored Him.

  1. Love must be authentic. (verse 9) No Hypocrisy. No Play acting. Christ loved us by giving Himself up without shadow of deception.

  2. Detest evil; cling to good. (verse 9) Christ died because of evil, yet for the joy set before Him, He sacrificed Himself. (Hebrews 12:2)

  3. Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. (verse 10) The Greek word Paul used for love is philadelphia” meaning “family love”. As believers, we are brothers and sisters because we have the one Father, God.

  4. Take the lead in honoring one another. (verse 10) Christ did not hold onto His rights, but surrendered them for our good. (Philippians 2:3-6)

  5. Don’t be sluggish in zeal. (verse 11) Following Jesus holds no room for lethargy; Christ deserves our everything!

  6. Fervently serve the Lord in the Spirit. (verse 11) We cannot follow Jesus on our own strength, but only in surrendering to His Spirit at work in us!

  7. Rejoice in hope, even when we may feel hopeless. (verse 12) Because of Jesus, our Hope is sure and certain.

  8. Meet tribulation with triumphant fortitude. (verse 12)

  9. Persevere in prayer, ceaselessly bringing all things to the Lord.
  10. In generosity, open your door to others. (verse 13) (Hebrews 13:2)

The Everyday Application

2) How is the Christ-follower to cultivate these characteristics in their own lives and why is this important?

Because the world is a battlefield between good and evil and our time here is short, our lives must be lived with an eye on eternity. The Christian must not waste time tied down to the patterns of this world that run counter to the heart of God. (Romans 12:2)

We must not choose to worship what isn’t worthy of our praise simply because it is easy or comfortable. Our everyday choices evidence the objects of our worship, and Paul’s practical list provides us with simple metrics to observe whether we are worshipping the Lord or not. The battle is intense and wearisome, but God exhorts us to “come away (…) and rest” (Mark 6:31).

In so doing, we arm ourselves with His protection and prepare to stand firm against a culture screaming, “I could care less about spiritual things”.

Zealously pursue the heart of God, study the Scriptures to know Him deeply, and then surrender your everyday moments to the work of the Spirit as He cultivates His fruit in us.

Watch for the daily opportunities the Lord provides to reflect His character to those around you.

Stand for justice, act with patience, love authentically, offer encouragement, extend comfort, and share generously, knowing the Lord’s return is certain and the best is yet to come because He has won our eternity! Hallelujah AMEN!

We can meet any circumstance when we meet it with Christ. Though we live in a world bent on getting, as imitators of Christ, we must be bent on giving. Following Jesus in everyday life is an act of worship expressed through open hands of generosity, hearts of authenticity, and doors of hospitality.

We are NOT to be conquered by evil but CONQUER evil with GOOD!

The Original Intent

3) How can we practically love our enemies? (verses 19-21)

Loving one’s enemies was a teaching that landed in Paul’s listeners in ways many of us cannot fathom. Roman citizens who chose to follow Christ put their life, and the lives of their family members, at risk. Loving their enemies and blessing those who persecuted them would easily have been an instruction to be reviled.

But Christ did not give this instruction in a vacuum for He said, “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15:18)

Early in His ministry, Jesus laid the groundwork for how to respond to those who reviled the Christ-follower. (Matthew 5:10-12) How does one love those who are intent on carrying out a death threat to yourself, your spouse, parent, or child?


If it were not for the Spirit of God working in them, the believers in Rome, and you and I, would have no hope of loving our enemies. But Christ loved us when we hated Him (Romans 5:8), and because of His humble example and because of the sure Hope we have in Him for eternity where every injustice will be righted, we are fueled to worship in the face of suffering.

Rejoice” (verse 12),
live in harmony” (verse 16), 
“bless and do not curse the persecutors” (verse 14),
live lowly (verse 16),
these are the ways we worship the One who sacrificed Himself for us.

Our fervent prayer and zealous love for our persecutors can be the hinge God will use to bring someone to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

God wastes nothing in bringing glory to His Name!

The Everyday Application

3) How can we practically love our enemies? (verses 19-21)

Is it possible to practically love our enemies? Yes! Yes! Yes! 

Fervently, zealously through God’s Spirit working in us, we are empowered to pray for our persecutors. More so, to offer them our hospitality, and live out Jesus’ love in practical, humble ways in real life!

Don’t miss an opportunity to be the hands, feet, mouth, and embracing arms of Jesus. Be bold in sharing the gospel with your lips, your open door, your warm food, and your fervent love! Don’t worry about having all the right words, just trust the Lord to do His work in you by His Spirit. He will be faithful to build His kingdom through you as you surrender to Him.

Is this a tough assignment in the face of pain and persecution? YES!
But it is nothing our Lord has not already accomplished for our benefit.

Whatever your painful woe, come to the Father, surrendering your tears and anguish, and be fueled by Him as you feast on His Word, speaking with Him in prayer. Do not shy away from praying even when you don’t know what to pray or have the words for He says, “The Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.” (Romans 8:26)

As His adopted daughters, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

The intense JOY of drawing close to the Father is beyond words. The closer we walk with Him, the more we hunger and thirst for more of Him. Circumstances, loss, pain, all begin to fade as we gaze on the face of the Savior God!

In loving Christ, He shapes us to love others, even our enemies! Yes and AMEN!

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