How Love Impacts our Relationships

Romans 12:9-21

Jerry A Collins




*               How is our love to be transformed?

*               How is our service to be transformed?

*               How are our relationships to be transformed?

*               How is our relationship to evil doers to be transformed?


Whenever we talk about something being transformed, we expect to be referring to something that has changed. Something that is different from what it used to be. His attitude has been transformed. His demeanor has completely changed. He is responding differently than I had expected. This is what we have been talking about in Romans 12. A transformation in our lives as vs 2 taught us. A transformation of spirit. A change that turns us into different people. In our passage we learn about this change and what areas it effects in our lives. In vs 9-16 it is transformation in our relationship to believers. In vs 17-21 it is transformation in our relationship to unbelievers. What is actually transformed when we follow Christ?


(1) Love must be genuine 9a. We cannot keep loving the way we have been. There must be a change. This is Godís love and itís very nature is sincere. Our love must be like that. No pretense. No Hypocrisy. Not skin deep. Genuine. Real. Sincere. True. At end of each day we should be able to look back and see where our love has changed something or someone. It takes initiative. It is proactive. Our love must be transformed into something brand new.

(2) Love must be without sentimentality 9b. While hating evil we are also to love good. Literally to be glued to it. We should not just hate the obvious evil we would all agree exists but to hate it in every form in which it appears. Hate the fact that people are unloved. Do you hate evil? Unfortunately, we can become immuned to evil and lose our since of horror of itís presence amongst us. It is the balance we have between hating all kinds of evil and simultaneously clinging to what is good as God defines that.

(3) Love is family affection 10a. The idea of devoted and brotherly love is that natural affection we have in family relationships. Bros and Sis have naturally special bond and that kind of relationship exists between each one of us in Christ. All believers are in Christ and have a special bond described as the natural affection of family. Do you have that? Do you give that?

(4) Love honors others 10b. Giving recognition and appreciation to one another in Christ. Can you see great value in each other because of our bond in Christ? So much is about me. Whose life is different now because of your humble service and preferential treatment of them? Outdo one another in showing honor to each other.


(1) Be productive 11. The idea here is to not be lacking in speed. Urgent and in a hurry. Time is short. Do not lose your energy. If you have been a believer for a long time donít pass the baton but speed up your service for the Lord. Now is not the time to slow down. Donít stagger. Energy for what? To serve the Lord. To fight sin. To disciple people. To study the Word. How do you do this? Keep up your spiritual fervor. Apollos is a model of someone who maintained fervent diligence in his service (Acts 18:25). Donít slack off here. The danger is that you just might.

(2) Be patient vs 12. Hope is always future. Meditate on what is coming. Donít get sidetracked by the here and now. Take the best moment you have ever had in your life and it is not even close to what heaven will feel like (1 Cor 2:9). Here is the balance though. Patient in affliction. Be an optimist but at same time be a realist. Patient is longsuffering. God is meeting my needs. So I can use the resource of prayer and be devoted to that in my life here on earth. I can communicate messages to my Father in heaven while I am here on earth and that provides a tremendous resource for me.

(3) Be providing vs 13. It says contributing to the needs of the saints, i.e., that is practicing hospitable. Thatís how you do that. Pursue this. Open up your resources. Donít be American but be xian here. An open heartóan open handóan open door. Whatever resources God has given you, use them, your house, your stuff, your money, your foodókeep it available.


(1) Desire Godís best for those who do not desire yours vs 14. The same message Jesus gave in Matt 5. The temptation is to respond tit for tat. But we should never retaliate and that goes against every grain of our humanity. Our old nature had absolutely nothing in common with this attitude.

(2) Have empathy vs 15. Rejoice and weep. Become so other-centered that you have no concern for your personal profit. Be moved by the joys and sorrows of others in body of Christ. We can secretly wish the worst on others or refuse to join in on others victories because we think of ourselves first. Jealousies take over. Envy grasps our attitude. Tale time to understand the experiences of others.

(3) Live in harmony vs 16. This is basic to being able to empathize with one another. Negatively, donít feel superior thinking of yourself more highly. Positively, associate with lowly people. Donít set yourself up against one another. No competition between us all of whom are in the family by Godís grace. While committed to Christ then committed to His church. Work out being a family. Pride always sets you against another.


Here the emphasis moves from one another to all people. 3 negatives begin the discussion here:

(1) Never repay evil vs 17.

(2) Do not take revenge vs 19.

(3) Do not be overcome by evil vs 21. Each of these seem to say same thing in different ways. The idea is that there is no revenge or retaliation for us. So do we just allow evil to triumph then? Not according to the context. 3 positives counter balance these.

(1) Be careful to do good things in eyes of others vs 17. Just to refuse to give evil is not enough. It contrasts with taking initiative to make peace that is in your power to make.

(2) To not take revenge is countered with 2 positives. First, leave room for Gods anger vs 19b. It is Gods prerogative to take revenge not ours. Donít do it. Second, love and serve evil doers vs 20 (Prov 25). This doing good may result in conviction and shame of the evil doer. Feeling uncomfortable because of neighborís love. The guilt may convict him in a gentle manner and then win them over. That is the idea.

(3) Overcome evil with good vs 21. Do not respond evilly to evil. Responding evilly will only double itóadd to its tally. Now we have double-trouble. Good reduces evilís tally and diminishes it. Do good, bring peace, serve humbly, win over enemiesóthis is the kind of transformation that God brings into our lives.

(1) Determine to serve the greater good and bests interests of one another.

(2) Desire to serve others rather than be served by them.

(3) Develop your capacity of concern by actively seeking to understand what is happening in one anotherís lives.

(4) Diminish the impact of evil around you by performing good things to counter it.