In our Christian Behaviour are we truly godly in our hearts or is there a mask of religion hiding an evil spirit within?

The Characteristics of Christian Behaviour

(f) Christian Love

Romans 12:9-17

Having expounded the grace gifts which God has given to his Church Paul continues by explaining how we can use these gifts. There is one factor which dominates the usage of these gifts and which should characterise our behaviour as believers –


This is the first aspect of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and is the chief of all graces (1 Corinthians 13). It is love alone which is the fulfilling of the law and is the sum of the Ten Commandments (Romans 13:10, Matthew 22:36-40).

1: The Definition of Christian Love

The love which Paul commends (v9) is agape which alone is used in the New Testament for the love of God. This is a perfect and complete love as opposed to phileo which is the affectionate, yet at times the fickle love of man. As a consequence of the Holy Ghost’s ministry the love of God is born in the hearts of Christians. This is a holy sacrificial love; a love which was manifested at the cross when Christ died for the ungodly.

We are to practice this love of God without “dissimulation”. The word actually means without a mask. We are not to pretend that we are loving and caring while at the same time we entertain bitterness and hatred. That is to be hypocritical. The hypocrite wears a mask. We do not see the real person. What people see is what we ought to be.

In our Christian Behaviour are we truly godly in our hearts or is there a mask of religion hiding an evil spirit within?

2: The Discrimination in Christian Love

Christian love will always discriminate between good and evil (v9). As this grace is God’s gift and as it is united to the moral law it will always reject wickedness and seek out that which is holy.

Are we constantly examining our hearts, our words, our attitudes, our behaviours and are we regulating them according to our love for God?

If we truly love God we will seek his honour at all times (John 14:15, John 15:10).

3: The Development of Christian Love

The remainder of this passage looks at 17 areas of daily living where this principle of Christian Love should be developed:

  1. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love”. The Greek word philostorgoi translated “kindly affectioned” refers to a love that exists within a family; we are one body (v4-5).

  2. In honour preferring one another”. We are to honour others instead of waiting for others to honour us (Philippians 2:3-4).

  3. Not slothful in business”. In all of our business whether at home, at work or at church we are to give our best.

  4. Fervent in spirit”. The word fervent means to boil. We should be boiling or bubbling over with the joy and the fullness of the Holy Ghost.

  5. Serving the Lord”. At all times we serve to please the Lord.

  6. Rejoicing in hope”. As Christians we labour for eternity; it is the hope of glory which sustains us at all times.

  7. Patient in tribulation”. While waiting for glory we are tried and tested by the afflictions of life, therefore we must be patient.

  8. Continuing instant in prayer”. We pray but we often fail to continue or persevere.

  9. Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” We are to be sensitive to the needs of our fellow Christians and do what we can reasonably do to help and encourage.

  10. Bless them which persecute you bless and curse not”. We are to show grace and we are to pray for those who wrong us.

  11. Rejoice with them that do rejoice”. This is genuine and selfless.

  12. Weep with them that weep”. A spirit of empathy for those who suffer and who are bereaved.

  13. Be of the same mind one toward another”. We must labour to win people, to live in harmony with them, not drive them away.

  14. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate”. We should have a common touch being able to associate with all.

  15. Be not wise in your conceits”. Leon Morris wrote “…the person who is wise in his own eyes is rarely so in the eyes of others”.

  16. Recompense to no man evil for evil.” Ideas of revenge or getting our own back is not the Christian way.

  17. Provide things honest in the sight of all men” This is a summary of the entire section. It literally exhorts us to do what is right in the sight of others. We are not to give occasion for the world to rebuke us or speak ill of us. The word “honest” means that which is beautiful or honourable.

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