Romans 12:10
Romans 12:9-21
Romans 12:9-21 (omitting vers. 11 and 12, for which see below).

The Christian's duty to his fellow-men. In these closing verses of this chapter the apostle sets before us the duty of a Christian man. It is a picture of what the Christian ought to be. What a world it would be if these precepts were carried out, if even every Christian was careful to observe them! Six features the apostle mentions which should characterize our dealings with others.

I. SINCERITY. "Let love be without dissimulation" (ver. 9). Unreality, falsehood, insincerity, untruthfulness, - these are prevalent evils in our day. They weaken all confidence between man and man. They destroy domestic peace, social intercourse, and commercial morality. Truthfulness and sincerity are much needed.

II. DISCRIMINATION. "Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good" (ver. 9). The spirit of indifference is another prevalent evil of our time. "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil." Dr. Arnold at Rugby, trying to elevate the standard of character there, found this difficulty - indifference about evil. He said, "What I want to see in the school, and what I cannot find, is an abhorrence of evil; I always think of the psalm, 'Neither doth he abhor that which is evil.'" We want more discrimination. The young especially need to discriminate in their friendships, and to choose the society of good men and good women.

III. GENEROSITY. "Distributing to the necessity of saints" (ver. 13). In exercising generosity, God's people, our brethren in Christ, should have the first claim upon us. But we are not to limit our attentions to them. "Given to hospitality," we shall show kindness to strangers, just because they are strangers and are away from home and friends. How truly the Christian religion teaches men consideration for others!

IV. SYMPATHY. "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (ver. 15). Sympathy is a Christ-like quality. Sympathy for the perishing brought Jesus Christ to earth. Sympathy sent Henry Martyn to Persia, Adoniram Judson to Burmah, David Brainerd to the Red Indians, David Livingstone and Bishop Hannington to Africa. Sympathy led Mr. E. J. Mather to brave the dangers of the deep in order to do something for the temporal and spiritual welfare of the deep-sea fishermen of the North Sea. We want more sympathy for those near us - for the poor, the sick, the suffering, the careless, at our own doors. We need to learn also how to sympathize with innocent enjoyment. The mission of the Christian Church is not a mission of amusement, but it can show that it does not frown upon, and can thoroughly enter into, the innocent pleasures and recreations of life. We are not only to "weep with them that weep," but also "rejoice with them that do rejoice."

V. HUMILITY. "Mind not high things, but condescend to man of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits." There is too mush pride even in the Church of Christ - pride of rank, pride of wealth, pride of learning. The condition of things so severely satirized and rebuked in the second chapter of James is still too common in the Christian Church. The Church of Christ needs to condescend a little more than it does "to men of low estate." Christian ministers need to think more of the humbler members of their congregations, while they do not neglect the spiritual welfare of the rich. A little more of the humility of Christ would make the Church of Christ and. the ministers of religion more respected among the working classes and the poor.

VI. PEACEFULNESS. "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (ver. 18). This peaceful relation may be secured:

1. By not cherishing a vindictive spirit. "Recompense to no man evil for evil" (ver. 17). "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves" (ver. 19). Offenders against peace would do little harm if they did not find others only too ready to take offence. What an example is that of Cranmer! -

To do him any wrong was to beget
A kindness from him; for his heart was rich,
Of such fine mould, that if you sowed therein
The seed of hate, it blossomed charity."

2. By meeting enmity with kindness. "Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not" (ver. 14). "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." Your kindness will be like coals of fire to melt his hardened heart, just as Jacob's prudent act of kindness, following on his prayer, turned away the anger of his injured brother Esau. So we may destroy our enemies, as the Chinese emperor is said to have done, by making them our friends. Thus we shall "overcome evil with good." - C.H.I.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.
1. All men ought to love each other as men because brethren by Adam. The world is one common family, split up by sin, but to be united again by Christian love.

2. All Christians ought to love each other, because begotten by one Spirit. Grace has done little for those who indulge in the same feelings as unregenerate worldlings.

3. All Christian Churches ought to love each other because under the rule of the same King. Alas, how little do we see of this! Paul lays down three rules for the guidance of Christians towards each other.

I. BE KINDLY AFFECTIONED. The world's morality says, Take care of self. Paul teaches the reverse. Scoffers say that many moral men are better than professors. Not better than true professors. And besides, the world must remember that it is indebted to Christianity for its high-toned morality. Christianity has developed the spirit of disinterestedness and self-sacrifice in the world. The affection of the text is not the sympathy, assistance and respect which prevail among moral men, but an affection begotten of love to God.

II. IN BROTHERLY LOVE. What more beautiful than a harmonious family — defending each other's characters, and caring for each other's wants. This — only purer, brighter, more fervent — should be seen in the Church. Each Christian should defend his brother, help the weak, and regard all with unbounded charity. Brotherly love avoids saying or doing anything that would offend the modesty or honour of a brother.

III. IN HONOUR PREFERRING ONE ANOTHER. In love and honour outdoing each other. Taking the lead, showing the example in giving honour. How often we strive to outdo each other in getting honour! If there must be contention, let it be an honest strife who shall be most humble and useful. We should in honour prefer one another because —

1. We know ourselves best. We know our evil hearts, and looking into them, we can easily believe that others are better and more deserving.

2. It would curb uncharitable thought, and uncharitable speech.

3. It would tend to the cultivation of the grace of humility.Lessons:

1. Cherish no evil towards a brother. No Church can prosper which is not united by the love of God.

2. Resentment is almost sure to beget resentment.

3. He that would be the most honoured must be the most humble.

(J. E. Hargreaves.)

The words in the original are more strong and specific than in our translation. The being kindly affectioned is expressed by a term which means the love of kindred, or by some called instinctive; and which is far more intense than the general good liking that obtains between man and man in society, or than ordinary friendship. And, to stamp upon it a still greater peculiarity and force, "brotherly love" is added to it — an affection the distinction of which from that of charity is clearly brought out by Peter (2 Peter 1:7), "And to brotherly kindness add charity" — the same with brotherly love in the original; and as distinct from general love or charity in the moral, as the magnetic attraction is from the general attraction of gravity in the material world. This more special affinity which binds together the members of the same family; and even of wider communities, as when it establishes a sort of felt brotherhood, an esprit de corps, between citizens of the same town, or inhabitants of the same country, or members of the same profession, and so originates the several ties of consanguinity or neighbourhood or patriotism — is nowhere exemplified in greater force than among the disciples of a common Christianity, if theirs be indeed the genuine faith of the gospel. It is in fact one of the tests or badges of a real discipleship (1 John 3:14). It gives rise to that more special benevolence which we owe to the "household of faith" (Galatians 6:10), as distinguished from the common beneficence which we owe "unto all men," and which stood so visibly forth in the first ages among the fellow-worshippers of Jesus as to have made it common with observers to say, "Behold how these Christians love each other."

(T. Chalmers, D.D.)


1. In desiring one another's good (1 Timothy 2:1).

2. In rejoicing in one another's prosperity (ver. 15).

3. In pitying one another's misery (ver. 15; Isaiah 63:9).

4. In forgiving one another's injuries (Matthew 6:14, 15).

5. In helping one another's necessities (1 John 3:17, 18).


1. We are commanded to do it (John 13:34).

2. No other command can be performed without this (Romans 13:10).

3. Neither can we love God without it (1 John 3:17).

4. This is true religion (James 1:27).

5. Because we are all brethren —

(1)In Adam as to the flesh (Acts 22:1).

(2)In Christ as to the Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:58; Philippians 1:14).Conclusion: Be kindly affectioned to all persons. Objections:

1. They are wicked.

(1)Thou canst not say that they are more wicked than thyself (1 Timothy 1:15).

(2)They may be saved, and thou lost (Matthew 7:1).

(3)Thou art to hate their sins, yet love them (Psalm 99:8).

2. They wronged me.

(1)Thou knowest not but their iniquity was thy good, as in Joseph's brethren.

(2)Thou hast injured God (Matthew 6:14, 15).

(3)Their sins cannot absolve thee from thy duty.

3. But they are still my enemies. Then thou hast a special command to love them (Matthew 5:44, 46).

(Bp. Beveridge.)

Good words do more than hard speeches, as the sunbeams, without any noise, will make the traveller cast off his cloak, which all the blustering winds could not do, but only make him bind it closer to him.

(Abp. Leighton.)

All men are objects of God's compassion; and we are required to approve ourselves His children by manifesting a like spirit of love towards all men (Leviticus 19:18; Luke 10:25-37). But as a man, while cherishing affection for every man, is required also to have special affection or his country, near kindred, and very specially his parents, wife, and children; so a Christian is required to cultivate a peculiar affection towards his fellow-Christians.

I. THE GROUND OR REASON OF THIS SPECIAL BROTHERLY AFFECTION. Their common special relationship to God and through Him to each other. They are "all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." The model for this love is the example furnished by Him who is "the Firstborn among many brethren" (John 15:12, 13; 1 John 3:16; Ephesians 4:32; Ephesians 5:1, 2). The special reasons are —

1. The world's hatred (John 15:18, 19; Mark 10:28-30). It was doubtless in anticipation of the manifestation of this affection.

2. The more effectual advancement of Christ's kingdom in the world (John 13:31-35; John 17:11-21).

3. That the mutual oversight and care necessary to promote each other's spiritual perfection might be ensured (Philippians 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 10:24; Colossians 3:16; Galatians 5:13).


1. Kindly or family affection. The word φιλόστοργος expresses properly the strong natural affection between parents and children. Love here is within a sacred enclosure, being more conscious of a common interest, and more profoundly affected by the joy or grief, the success or failure of any one within the circle. On this account it is more jealous of the character and reputation of its objects, because of the consciousness that anything disreputable on the part of one brings discredit, on the whole. It is also more sensitive, because of its greater intensity, being painfully alive to things which outside that sacred circle would hardly be considered worthy of notice.

2. Emulousness to take the lead in showing respect to the brethren. "In honour preferring one another" (Philippians 2:3). The apostle's meaning is not that, in respect to honour, we are to strive to excel or to anticipate each other; although of course there is a sphere for legitimate rivalry. And as every one may lawfully covet earnestly the best gifts, so every one ought to endeavour so to excel in all goodness. But it is more agreeable to the context to render, "In yielding, or giving honour to each other, taking the lead," i.e., Let every one of you so love the brethren as to set an example of true Christian courtesy.

(W. Tyson.)

I. IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE IN SOME MEASURE KINDLY AFFECTIONED ONE TO THE OTHER, WITHOUT HAVING THAT LOVE OF WHICH THE APOSTLE SPEAKS. There is a natural affection in man's heart — the love of parents and children, brothers and sisters. This affection may often be seen strongly in those who are strangers to true religion.

II. HOW GREATLY IS THIS AFFECTION EXALTED WHEN GRAFTED WITH A HIGHER PRINCIPLE OF CHRISTIAN LOVE. The grace of God does not destroy natural affection, but increases and purifies.

1. It springs from higher and purer motives — from love to God and a sincere endeavour to obey the command of Christ, that "we should love one another."

2. It aims at higher ends — the glory of God, and the spiritual good of those we love.

3. It gives more entire confidence one with another.

4. It is more certain, more steady.

5. It spreads wide. While it seeks first the happiness of those most near and dear, it embraces also all who are of the household of faith.


1. In the honourable preference of one another; in lowliness of mind, esteeming others better than ourselves.

2. In a constant kindness, obligingness, and courteousness; teaching us to avoid everything which is grating and painful to the feelings of others.

3. In bearing and forbearing much, and in readily forgiving.

4. In giving faithful counsel, and, if need be, faithful reproof to others.

5. In praying for others.

IV. SCRIPTURAL EXAMPLES, to practise it.

1. Joseph.

2. Jonathan for David.

(E. Blencowe, M.A.)

In honour preferring one another. —


1. An acknowledgment of what is excellent in others.

(1)Authority (1 Peter 2:17).


(3)Virtue (Proverbs 12:26).

2. Expressed by outward signs (Genesis 42:6; Acts 26:25).


1. By having modest thoughts of ourselves (Proverbs 26:12).

2. By having a just esteem of others' excellencies (1 Peter 2:17).

3. By accounting all others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3; Isaiah 65:5).


1. Preserve peace.

2. Avoid confusion.

3. Manifest ourselves Christians.

(Bp. Beveridge.)

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