One recent conversation centered on v. 9-13 (here from the NIV):
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Here are the same verses from the Message:
9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. 11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
These verses provide some guidance for us as we are beginning this journey together. They provide a basic framework for how to think about ourselves: we want to be people both individually and corporately who do those sorts of things. If we had to describe the main thrust of those verses, what are “those things” we want to do, it would be: Love, Pray, Eat.
One way to understand this passage is to think of it as a description of a kind of person, as opposed to a checklist of specific actions. You might read it as “Be the sort of person who loves sincerely” or “Be the kind of person who is joyful in hope and shows hospitality.” The group of us who were discussing this passage thought it might be a useful exercise as a way to get at the spirit of each section, to try and uncover the opposite meaning. We came up with this anti-translation of sorts and offer it here as possible food for thought for you, and for further reflection for ourselves.
9 Be Nice and look like you’re being loving; don't get too uptight or make waves about evil--whether it's in yourself or in others; good is fine, but don't overdo it (better to laugh with sinners than cry with saints).
10 Love others whenever it's convenient and when it will help you make a good impression; show a certain amount of team spirit but don't let others get ahead of you. You can afford to respect others as long as you keep up a good self-concept.
11 Do what you want, when you want; someone else can take care of the rest. Be religious but not fanatical as long as that works for you.
12 Be realistic in your expectations, feet on the ground (no pie in the sky); everyone gets mad when things go wrong, and when times get tough you probably should consider a change of course. Pray when it makes you feel better; prayer's fine and all, but really you're on your own whether things are lucky or sucky.
13 Take care of those who take care of you; encourage others to be responsible, and for God's sake don't be an enabler! Make sure you have enough before you share. Beware of strangers; you gotta be smart about who you help because you could get taken for a ride; and if the right kind of people catch wind of who you're spending time with--especially if they're some of those people--well, people might get the wrong ideas about you.