Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Paul begins this section of chapter twelve with a list of characteristics common to the spirit filled life of a Christian walking in faith. These represent the traits we should strive for through the power of the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts and minds. Knowing that we are saved by faith and that we work through the spirit to bring glory to God the Father. Verse nine covers personal traits we ourselves should have. Whereas verses ten through thirteen cover the characteristics needed to care for one another. The first characteristic or trait we should strive for sets the stage for all the others. Without this trait the others are not only worthless; but impossible. This first trait is to develop a spirit of love and concern for others, exceeding the love we have for ourselves. And to do so without hypocrisy, to do so in humility, expecting nothing in return.
Why is this so important? Because it is only through a spirit of love that we can truly harvest a desire and concern for the care of fellow believers and the lost. Once we have that love for others the rest will follow, including kindness, patience and a spirit of service and a genuine joy for our place in the body of Christ. Paul reminds his readers as we serve the body and follow Jesus, tribulations will come just as Jesus told us they would. They will come because we live in a fallen world, a world which is at enmity with God. We should never forget that the enemy does not want us serving God, or bringing others to Jesus. As a result of our actions we can rest assured the enemy’s attacks will increase as we become more effective for the kingdom of God. However, through the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells us, we are to remain steadfast in prayer, patient in faith, remembering Jesus has overcome the world and nothing can take us from the arms of Christ.