Let Love Flow
Pastor Steve Ellison
In Romans 12:3-8, we see a brief discussion of gifts. The Holy Spirit points out that every Christian must see that he is not an independent entity but rather that he exists in a community as part of the Body of Christ, a living organism. Every Christian belongs to that body and must function in that body for the purpose of building up that body.
Romans 12:9 begins a new paragraph by stating, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” NASU The Holy Spirit continues the instructions regarding the proper use of gifts by pointing out the need for real love. When the Bible discusses gifts, you can be sure that it will quickly move to fruit. It always does. The gifts are tools to use, not toys to play with. The tools always have the same purpose: building up of the Body of Christ by producing fruit. That will always involve fruit bearing. Fruit is always related to love. Verse nine simply states “let love be” which lets us know immediately that love is not something we have to produce. Love is something that comes from God. It flows from God to us. It is supposed to flow on through us. We are not the producers of love; we are simply the conduits of love. We only have to allow it to flow through us. In fact only two avenues are open to us. We can either let it flow or dam it up. We are not capable of producing it.
Verse nine also tells me that this love flowing through me should be without hypocrisy. It should be real and sincere. The Greek word in verse nine that we have translated as “hypocrisy” in New Testament days referred to the acting done by an on-stage performer. Surely this is an important consideration for us today. If my so-called love for my fellow believers in Christ has to be produced inside myself it is not real. It will be the result of “acting” on my part. I may be able to fool others for a while. My actions may even resemble real love for a while but eventually, probably even soon, I will not be able to keep up the charade. Then everyone will know that it was not real love at all.
The rest of the paragraph formed by Romans 12:9-13 states “Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” NASU This list of fruit clearly identifies a few things I will not be able to do, if my love is hypocritical love (not the love that flows from God to and through me). The list could be much longer but surely this list is long enough to prove to me that apart from Christ I can do nothing. Without His love, I will not, I cannot abhor what is evil. I will not cling to what is good. If I do not have the agape love listed in verse nine, I will not have the phileo love commanded in verse ten. Without the real love of God flowing through me, I will not give preference to one another; I will lag in diligence; I will not be fervent in spirit; and so on. You get the point. If my love is only an act, I will not produce any fruit whatsoever.