It would be easy to look at this passage and just think that these are things we are to do as individual Christians.
But it’s important to note that Paul is saying all this within the context of the body of Christ. He says first of all,
Love must be sincere. (9)
I love how the NLT puts it.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.
It can be so easy, for example, to pretend as if we’re listening to someone talking, when all the while, our brain is a million miles away. But don’t just pretend to take an interest in others, really take an interest in them.
He then tells us as a church,
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
As a church, we need to hate and fight against the evil that we see in this world, while clinging to what is good and right. But that needs to start with what’s inside the church.
When we see bitterness and unforgiveness in the church, do we fight against that, instead embracing forgiveness? When we see divisions and factions, do we fight to resolve them and instead embrace unity? When we see pride and prejudices within the church, do we banish them from our midst, and embrace acceptance and love (verses 10 and 16)? When we see blatant, willful sin, do we deal with it in godly discipline (I Corinthians 5)? And when we see a person fall, do we gently work to restore them (Galatians 6:1)?
Paul goes on to say,
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (12)
When we go through trials, are we supporting one another, giving each other hope, encouraging each other to stand throughout our trials, and praying for each other. Do we,
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (15)
We talked about earlier how it’s important to minister to those within the church, not just without. Paul brings this up as well, saying,
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (13)
That’s what our Christian lives should look like. Does yours?