Romans 12:9-21
Daily Living In The Lord

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

Re-Translated In April 2000

There Must Not Be Lies In Love

1.  The passage read today begins with the words, "There must not be lies in love; [love must not be hypocritical but sincere.]"  In this passage [is] an exhortation regarding the concrete everyday lifestyle of a Christian, but it is discussed from the perspective of relationships with others.

2.  "There must not be hypocrisy in love."  It is a beautiful saying; no one would deny it.  But, when it comes to how you would define what love with no lies is, I suppose there would be all different kinds of understandings of it.

3.  We might be able to figure out how Paul understood the word "to love" through chapter thirteen of The First Epistle To The Corinthian Disciples.  Considering that Paul sent this letter addressed to Rome from Corinth, it is necessary to read this passage from Corinthians in conjunction with the other from Romans.  Since ["the love chapter"] is frequently read at weddings many know it.  It reads as follows:


"Love is patient.  Love is tenderhearted.  It does not envy.  Love does not boast, nor is it high-minded.  It does not lose its gratitude, nor does it seeks it own benefit, nor is it irritated, nor does it harbor resentment.  It does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth.  It endures all things, it believes all things, it hopes for all things, it puts up with all things," (First Corinthians 13:4-7).

5.  When we read this, we understand that what the Bible calls "love" is not the same emotional thing as we might call "falling for someone, being big on something."  By not understanding this, those who think that unhypocritical love is merely being honest with one's feelings will also misunderstand the words of the Bible that say, "There must not be lies in love."  Because they will even take it to mean, "It is a lie to put up with something even though you don't like it."  But, the next thing Paul says after "There must not be lies in love" is "Hate evil, do not depart from good."  A person only honest in feelings doesn't take it like that.  Because he or she takes it as "hate what you don't like and do not leave from what you do like."  Thus, we understand hereby that it is not words pertaining to emotion, "I've fallen for [so and so]" [or "I like those"], that the Bible is speaking of in this text [about love].

6.  In the first place, it is easy to hate what you don't like.  Babies are even capable of such a thing.  The really difficult thing is to hate evil itself.  In many cases the thing we hate is not the evil, but is usually the evil person or the miserable conditions of the effects of evil, or the suffering evil brings.  It is the same regarding [the injunction] not to depart from the good.  We have a lot of love for a good person.  We don't leave the good person.  But if we go by verse two in this chapter, the good itself is nothing more than the will of God.  Thus, this means we are to seek what God wills for us and we are not to depart from it.

7.  Patient endurance is required in truly hating the evil itself, in wishing for evil to be removed and in seeking at length for the will of God to be present at such times. True endurance and compassion are needed.  It is needful to be patient in all things, believe all things, hope for all things, and put up with all things.  If you are missing these elements, no matter how on fire your heart is or how much kindness or affection you have coming from your sincere frame of mind, the Bible does not call that "love."

Serve The Lord Zealously In The Spirit [Burn With The Spirit And Serve The Lord]

8.  So, in light of our comprehension of this, let's pay attention to Paul's specific exhortation.  Paul says, "Love one another with brotherly love and think of others with respect as better than you," (verse ten).

9.  Paul is not saying here to try to build up family relationships and to become brothers.  The word "brotherly love" presupposes that one family already is in existence there.  We have been made a family which is given peace with God through Christ and which looks to God the Father of Christ as our own Father.  Loving each other with brotherly love is nothing but to put that truth in first place.  Whether we like it or not, that's where the good will of God is.  The important thing is that we not depart from the good.

10.  What, then, is demanded of us is not just for us to be friendly toward each other or to work towards bringing our hearts close together.   In the world people have been pursuing after knowing one another's hearts like the back of their own hands as the ideal relationship.  There are many people who can not have peace of mind unless they have others know their minds or they know the minds of others.  So, people are apt to think this [sharing of one's feelings] is brotherly and sisterly love.  But, Paul says the important thing about brotherly and sisterly love is "to think of others as better persons than oneself and to have respect for them."  Some people might hear this and be surprised.  But if you give it some hard thought, it must be more important in relationships where people live together to live in respect for each other and to esteem one another even if there is a distance [between them] rather than [live together with] an undisciplined1 intimacy [or familiarity].

11.  Then, the exhortation is given to "Be diligent and not lazy, burn in the Spirit and serve the Lord.  Rejoice with hope and endure hardships and pray untiringly," (verses eleven and twelve).  A heart on fire is different from being "on fire in the Spirit."  A heart will burn due to many different psychological factors.  Some hearts burn from the praise and admiration of others.  Some hearts burn from being with the peers who refuse them.  Some hearts are on fire in uniting against an enemy.  But, the expression "burn with the Spirit, on fire in the Spirit" means it is derived from the Holy Spirit.  It means that [your] passion comes from God.  If it's only the heart that is on fire, it will soon burn out.  When conditions change one's zeal is lost.  Unless they are admired and praised, they grow weary and tired.  They become lethargic.  It is because they were serving some passion of the heart and they had not been serving the Lord.

12.  Consequently, Paul says, "Serve the Lord."  We should not cut loving and serving the Lord into two.  In verse thirteen an additional specific word of exhortation comes.  We are to help the saints in their poverty and we are to host travelers.  Among the help for the poverty of the saints, for example as Paul had so done, things like the raising of funds to help other impoverished churches was probably included.  Any way, this passage here is speaking about a specific work of love.  But, the important thing is that verse thirteen is not speaking alone here in isolation without support.  Grammatically speaking it is one complete sentence without a period from verses nine to thirteen.  We shouldn't cut the act of loving off from the act of serving the Lord.

13.  As long as we don't cut this in two, hope will not be lost.  The hope of those whose hearts are on fire may be lost, but the hope of those who burn with the Spirit will not be lost.  Because it comes from God.  These kind of people can rejoice with hope and endure hardships.  Because this hope and endurance do not come from man or woman but come from God, they begin to be possible in steadfast prayer.

Overcome Evil With Good

14.  In addition let's read beginning with verse fourteen.  In this passage here there are various messages of exhortation in a hodgepodge, but I suppose it is probably the words in verse seventeen, "Do not return evil for evil against anyone and bear in mind to do good before all people" that is at the focus [of them all].  Also, when we survey the entire set of conditions written here we understand that in the final analysis it is [all] connected to the words at the top in verse nine of "There must not be lies in love."

15.  Paul says at first, "Pray for the blessings of those who persecute you."  This brings to mind the words of the Lord when he said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," (Matthew 5:44).  When we look at where he talks about submission to the ruling authorities in chapter thirteen, it seems that Paul does not yet have in mind at that point in time the persecutions that come from the authorities of the state.  But, as we see in The Acts Of The Apostles, Paul himself was persecuted by his fellow countrymen and women the Jews, and long before writing this epistle he had experienced persecution by the Gentiles at Ephesus.  Thus, Paul must have thought that these experiences of him in this way were surely related to those of the Roman disciples.

16.  At any rate, contrary to the way we think, Paul was saying here that if you face persecution or some evil which has taken some other form, paying back evil with evil will not result in overcoming the evil thing itself.  Or, even though you may beat out the bad person against you, you will [still] end up being defeated by the very evil itself.  And since you can't win against the evil itself, unfortunately, no matter how much is done in the name of "justice" or in the name of "love" it ends up unrelated to the unhypocritical love which is talked about in verse nine.

17.  Therefore, Paul addresses them as "o beloved ones" and exhorts them to "not take revenge on your own, but to entrust it over to the wrath of God," (verse nineteen).  No matter how righteous our anger is, no matter how just a cause it entails, it will never be truly equal to the holy anger of a righteous God.  The one who is to defeat and take revenge on the evil thing itself with a holy anger and condemnation is none but God.  When our sinful anger has won a victory, then actually at that moment in time we end up being defeated by the evil itself.  That's why he says entrust it over to God.  He says turn our anger over to God and the thing we ought to do is to love.  The Bible says, "Don't lose out to evil, but overcome evil with good."

May God's Love Be Our Love

18. Yet, as we read this, who of us could not help but tremble with fear at this message?  What a fearsome awesome statement the Bible makes!  "There must not be lies in love."  There is a big difference in the ring of these words from when we first read them at the beginning and when we look back on them again after reading through to verse twenty-one.  These are anything but beautiful words.  They are not words we can frivolously pronounce as "Oh yes, they're just so true."  Aren't they dreadful words that put us in a corner?

19.  When we are sensitized to this, I think two kinds of reactions might arise within us.  The first is a feeling of self accusation and blame.  "It is impossible for this kind of love to be in me.  An unhypocritical love doesn't seem popular, either.  But, what I have come to call love is nothing but a lie!"

20.  Or, the person who does not want to blame himself or herself will blame someone else.  In putting themselves on the outside of the church, they criticize it and begin to say, "There is no love in church.  True love or anything like it is really a myth.2   One person's love is a lie and the next one's love is a lie, too."  Or, the force of their attack might be turned on Paul or the Bible, saying, "In the first place, these are just pretty words written here and nothing more."  That's how they end up either blaming themselves or save themselves by blaming someone else.

21.  But, I think we must listen to these words as we look here in the same direction as Paul.  Paul said, "There must not be lies in love."  This word for "love (agape)" has not really been used to this point in this epistle in regard to human love.  It has always been for a divine love.  It stands for God's love manifested in Christ.  Paul states this while keeping his eye on God's love.

22.  God has hated our sin.  But, he has loved us.  Though he hated our sin and evil and because he loves us sinners, his love has been a love that includes unlimited patience and suffering.  Because God hates the very sin itself he has not judged and destroyed us, but has dealt with the sin itself and has granted us pardon.  Christ said, "Love your enemies."  But, it was God himself who first loved us in our hostility to him.  By his love the cross was set up.

23.  What do we see on that cross?  On it we see the unlimited hatred of God for sin.  Yet, at the same time, we see God's unlimited love and mercy towards us.  It is not just pretty words written here.  It is the love Christ showed when he tore his flesh and shed his blood, and by these very [acts he showed his love] with a blood stained battle against sin itself.  God did not defeat the sinner, but in defeating sin, he acquired us as his very own.

24.  It is important to know we are not born with an unhypocritical love.  Because the person, who doesn't know it isn't in him or her, won't look for it.  When we focus on Christ, the prayer comes into being that this love of God (agape) might become our love.  Through such a prayer the day to day lifestyle of a Christian begins to righteously follow its course.

25.  And God will answer our prayer.  Paul writes in his epistle addressed to the Corinthians, "We all, while he removes the veil on our face and reflects the glory of the Lord as a mirror, will be remade from glory to glory into the same image as the Lord.  This comes by the work of the Lord's Spirit," (Second Corinthians 3:18).  In truth, love with no lies is nothing other than a fruit which the Spirit yields forth.

End Notes

1"Sestudo no nai" could even be translated as "hog wild."

2"Ariwashinai" or "arimoshinai" means "false."

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