How To Love Robustly / Romans 12:9-13

Theme: We aim to have robust love. This plays out in our interactions with good and evil, one another, the Lord, tribulation, and need. Let us submit and grow.

In this post I’ve included:

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  • [ ] 1,300 Word Study Outline
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Romans 12:9-13 Study Outline / Gospel Applications: Love Robustly

Have you ever thought about the word “priorities?”

  • When taken as the thing to be done first, or the thing to command the most attention, it doesn’t fit as a plural word.
  • Priority? Yes. Priorities? No.

In the Bible, the priority is love.

  • My body for God’s glory (12:1). My body used for love.

Theme: We aim to have robust love. This plays out in our interactions with good and evil, one another, the Lord, tribulation, and need. Let us submit and grow.

These are the five elements we will focus on today.

  1. Love good over evil.
  2. Love other believers.
  3. Love fervently.
  4. Love through tribulation.
  5. Love in need.

Love Good Over Evil (12:9)

Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine.

Context: body life, using gifts.

  • Similar to 1 Corinthians 13 flow of logic — 1 Corinthians 13:1–3 (ESV)—1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
  • Love is like the circulatory system of the body, enabling the body parts to function well.

Love is more than a feeling.

  • It is an action, a position.
  • Jesus: the cross demonstrated love.
  • Love is the greatest action word that ever existed.

We must work to make sure it is genuine.

  • Without hypocrisy.
  • David — Psalm 55:21 (ESV)—21 His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.

Why would it be tempting to love hypocritically?

  • We aren’t tied together by interests, race, class, history, or blood.
  • We are only tied together by the blood of Christ.

Romans 12:9 Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

A strong statement.

  • Not: abstain from evil, do good.

Abhor what is evil: Don’t tolerate evil.

  • It is unhelpful: 1 Corinthians 6:12 (ESV)—12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.

This is a natural offshoot of love.

  • It might even sound strange to us after hearing of genuine love.
  • You abhor what it can do. You abhor the separation it creates between God and man.
  • Ephesians 4:26 (ESV)—26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

Hold fast to what is good: We are to marry ourselves to what is good.

  • Don’t just do good.
  • Replace. Fill up with something else.
  • 2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV)—22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace…


  • Have I accommodated anything I ought to abhor?
  • Have I focused much of my attention on what is legal, rather than what is helpful?

Pastoral Comments:

  • Areas we might not abhor within: tongue based sins, greed, partiality, laziness.

Love Other Believers (12:10)

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Jesus told us to love one another.

  • John 13:34 (ESV)—34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
  • John 13:35 (ESV)—35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  • John 15:17 (ESV)—17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Brotherly affection: This is special love for our church family.

  • This is familial love.
  • The world? Yes. But the church? Definitely.

Outdo one another in showing honor: Excel in honor giving. I honor Christ. He is in you.

  • Philippians 2:3 (ESV)—3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
  • We aren’t in need of this conviction, but this calendar.


  • Is this possible in my current life?
  • Do I know other men enough to be able to live this out?

Pastoral Comments:

  • Open hearted love: 2 Corinthians 6:11 (ESV)—11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open.
  • You can only have this on a deep level with so many people. Who are your people?
  • Honor: singles vs. marriage, male vs. female, color vs. white, young vs. old.

Love Fervently (12:11)

Romans 12:11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Serve the Lord: Not with laziness (slothful) or in a half-hearted (be fervent) way. So this recipe for love has to do with our service of Christ.

Life can pulverize us.

  • Resultantly, zeal wanes.
  • Zeal wanes naturally.
  • Examples: Military zeal. Teaching zeal. Political zeal. Marital status zeal.
  • But when serving Christ zeal is under satanic opposition and discouragement.

Sloth is dangerous.

  • Jeremiah 1:17 (ESV)—17 But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:6 (ESV)—6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.


  • How is your enthusiasm?
  • Do I serve the Lord?

How to stir up zeal and fervency:

  • 1 Remember the cross.
  • 2 Remember where your life is found.
  • 3 Remember the lost.
  • 4 Remember eternity.
  • 5 Remember imminency.
  • 6 Remember who you serve!

Colossians 3:23–24 (ESV)—23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Love On Earth (12:12)

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Hope / Tribulation / Be Constant: All of these acknowledge the difficulty of life. So how are we to endure this world?

Rejoice in hope: Joyful anticipation of the future coming of Christ.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (ESV)—2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

Patient in tribulation: Because it won’t last forever.

Constant in prayer: I'm to pray about the tribulation I endure.


  • How could prayer help me through the pain of earth?
  • How could I develop my prayer life more fully?

Love Through Need (12:13)

Romans 12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Contribute to the needs:

  • This is where community gets real.
  • You begin to be known, but also to know.

This is for the saints.

  • We love all of God’s creation, but we do prioritize the saints.

The early church operated this way.

  • Acts 2:44 (ESV)—44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.
  • This is descriptive, not prescriptive. But the description is helpful.


  • This is different than our modern versions of hospitality.
  • It was a necessity in those days. Inns were horrible. Persecution was real. Christian missionaries were developing. Houses were not owned by everyone.
  • This is help, not just hosting.


  • Jesus reached out. Am I?
  • Do I set aside time and treasure to help needs, including lodging?


Priority: Love.

We have needs (physical, social, spiritual). We often put lesser needs at the front of our lives.

  • Put love there instead.

This kind of life cannot be lived without a community of believers.