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.
Unconditional love, agape love, must be the basis for all that we do. Paul exhorts Christians in the 1st century church, and likewise today, to be sincere in love with the motive to build up the body of Christ. Paul suggests that believers must live in harmony with one another, not being filled with pride or conceit. Prior to this, Paul described the different gifts that are evidenced in the body of Christ: encouragement, giving, mercy, and teaching. He says that each member of the body must work together using his gift for the benefit of all. Love is the key to the Christian community, and it is through love that we must exercise our gifts.
There is nothing more powerful than love that is genuine, devotion to one another, and honoring others above ourselves. A community of believers devoted to Christ and to one another could feasibly change the course of the whole world! Paul suggests that the key to living in harmony with one another is humbly living at peace with all persons. Love in action calls us to care for our enemies: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. (v.20) We are called to love even those who are unlovable and extend a hand even to our enemies. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit and a surrendered life are we able to love in the way Christ calls us.
When we honor others above ourselves, we crucify the flesh that demands our own way and extend the hand of grace that offers unconditional love. Paul knew that to be an effective community for Christ, using individual gifts for the good of the whole, would require humility and a willingness to serve others.
Where has God called you to serve? Who has He called you to honor above yourself ? Paul’s words ring true for us today: Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…
Heavenly Father, Why is it so hard to let go of my own needs in order to honor others above myself? Why do I cling to my own desires and resist the call to love? Help me to be devoted to others, serving them with Your love which is sincere and selfless. In Jesus’ name, Amen