Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In Romans 12 Paul preaches his own version of the Sermon on the Mount. In 13 short verses he turns out 30 instructions, all of them meant to put flesh on the bones of Christ's one commandment of love. Paul had good reason for going to so much trouble. The church in Rome was splitting apart in at least two different ways. Inside, by conflict between Jewish and Gentile Christians. And outside, by conflict between Christian and non-Christian Romans. There were black eyes and bad feelings all over the place. Marcus went to the midweek service so he would not have to sit in the same room with Clovis on Sunday; Lucius was so mad at both of them that he ...

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