There is a story about a man who was walking down the street . He passed a used book store, and in the window he saw a book with this title, How To Hug. He was taken by the title and, being of a somewhat romantic nature, went in to buy the book. To his chagrin, he discovered that it was the third volume of an encyclopedia and covered the subjects How to Hug.
As I think of that story, the church can become like that. The church should be a place where care and compassion are offered, but many times people come to church seeking empathy, only to discover an encyclopedia on theology.
I shared last week, introducing our series, that Romans 1-11 is the doctrine but Romans 12-16 is the practice; previously Paul was hard to understand not this portion is hard to live. Paul’s writings have this pattern where right behavior is shaped by right belief. The fruit of our character and actions come from the root of our convictions. If we don’t have the right foundation then our goals and growth will be short-lived and ineffective. And, it’s why Romans 12 starts off with the word “Therefore,” to reference the foundation of Romans 1-11.
EXAMINE Romans 12:9-21; 13:8-10; 14 / 15 Others – we are family & friends
Vital Signs: G.O.S.P.E.L.
God is glorious, so we must worship Him fully (Romans 11:36 – 12:2)
– Romans 12 – Therefore… from Romans 1-11 and Paul’s doxology “From Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To God be the glory forever. Amen.”
– To worship God fully means we offer our bodies as living sacrifices. The concept of sacrifice was familiar to them. Jews would sacrifice the first and best animal. Yet, Paul’s command (urge = call or summon) to sacrifice was not for the purpose of pleasing God. God’s mercies had already been put forth in Jesus’ once and for all sacrifice (Heb 10:1-4, 10). So, Paul was not commanding a dead sacrifice but one alive in response to the merciful sacrifice.
– Awake. Too often the church has been asleep or living as a spectator to what is going on in our culture. However, God calls us to live awake.
o John 4:35 “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see the fields are ripe for the harvest.”
o John 9:4 “We must work the works [of God] while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.”
o Ephesians 5:16 “make the best use of the time [καιρός], because the days are evil.”
We sleep because we have been
– Deceived that the ways of world appear more attractive and satisfying than ways of God
o Satan is the Father of lies (John 8:44)
– Distracted of mind and heart to focus on temporary and trivial rather than eternal and essential
We awake to “Amen” God’s glory with our life by
Starting each day with God. The start of your day often determines the rest of your day. As a Christian, God wants you to start the day in His presence and in His truth.
o Bible.com / YouVersion App
o Write or Print out a portion of Scripture to meditate and memorize for the next month or quarter. Previously we did the Beatitudes, and if you’re beyond that, then consider Romans 12, or perhaps a psalm or another passage that relates to your life circumstances.
Others – we are family and friends (Romans 12:9-21).
Paul ends his discussion of service in the body with 31 marks of exhortation for Christian relationships.
◊ God gave us relationships to bless us and build us; it’s the building that we don’t always take to kindly. Having trusted people in our life to help build our character and faith are invaluable.
◊ Family is the highest form of community, but not the easiest.
What effect will 31 exhortations have on your reading the Bible, listening to sermon?
Nothing if you don’t relate them personally AND pray for God’s empowering grace to apply them. We gain nothing speeding 60mph past a fruit grove or an ice cream shop… we must stop and slowly taste each action of flavor for daily living.
For Oct, I’m going to create a box calendar for each day with this list. Maybe also have staff/leaders create video devotional to share each day.
Today’s sermon won’t be exhaustive on all 31 but let’s dig in…
Christians must be known for their love in heart.
The first carries significance in Paul’s thinking across his and the other apostolic letters. Believers are to genuinely love (ἀγάπη) one another. But why did Paul describe the aim of our love as w/o hypocrisy – rather than saying love boldly/courageously/devotedly/earnestly/faithfully?
Hypocrisy implies not just fakeness but self-centeredness. And that is the essence that Paul is attacking with the previous passage content of spiritual gifts and the latter passage content for how to love and treat others. A hypocritical person presents themselves on the outside as one thing, but on the inside they are different: church attenders who don’t really pray or read their Bible, supposed Christians who don’t live under Jesus’ Lordship in the area of sexual activity… or the self-centeredness of Christians who spectate rather than serve their church, or who live in comforts with very little sacrifices for the cause of Christ around the world. To be more specific: there are liberal hypocrites who boast of religion when it fits their agenda for politics or personal preference (environment, poverty, personal rights, etc.) but their lifestyle doesn’t match their lip service / likewise, there are fundamentalist hypocrites who pride their beliefs and promote their deeds but inwardly their hearts lack integrity and their lifestyle is equally immoral in a variety of sins.
Matthew 15:7 “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
1Corinthians 13:3 “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). In another letter, Paul said the greatest act of spiritual service was love (1Corinthians 13:13). Supremely, love is the backbone for all the other exhortations.
Illus: Test of sincerity. Our English word sincere comes from the Latin sincerus, which means “without wax.” It stems from a practice of the early Roman merchants who set their earthen and porcelain jars out for sale. If a crack appeared in one, they would fill it with wax the same color as the jar, so a buyer would not be aware that it was cracked. But astute buyers learned to hold these jars out in the sun, and if the jar was cracked, the wax would melt and the crack would be revealed. So the honest merchants would test their wares this way and mark them sincerus — without wax.
A test of sincerity of love is community and accountability. Do others affirm and feel loved by you? Are people attracted to your love that they bring others to experience it too?
V. 10 Love one another (φιλόστοργοι) with brotherly affection (φιλαδελφίᾳ)
Paul was saying Christians devotion to one another is to be as family and friends.
– Value of church membership and attendance; church is not a social club but a special family.
– Value of church beyond Sunday!
– Value of vulnerability… no masks, no fake/counterfeit, no duplicity or deceit, no posturing or bragging; but life on life to “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” (Rom 12:15-16).
– Value of each person: even bothersome brothers, silly sisters, unusual uncles & grumpy grandparents.
1 John 2:9-10; 3:14-17; 4:7-8
V. 10 Outdo one another showing honor.
The Roman social structure was quite hierarchical, therefore Paul’s exhortation to love and honor everyone was radical. While a servant may respect and show kindness for the master, to have the master love and serve the servant would have been completely counter-cultural. A leader’s best message is their life of service.
Imagine a place where there was competition to honor each other.
– Here, let me get that door for you… and walk you down steps.
– Oh, you’re new here? Please sit with me. Do you need anything, how can I pray or help you?
V. 11. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Paul was perhaps seeking to light a fire in the elite, higher class members of the church. Sometimes the affluent can grow apathetic and slow to meet needs or volunteer. Sometimes people only like to make suggestions but not participate in the implementation for lack of care or commitment. Instead, Paul exhorted them toward fervent service (fervent = ζέοντες = hot enough to boil).
V.13 Contribute to needs of saints
The early church was full of generosity. “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:34). 1st century Christianity wasn’t a forced socialism but a community full of freedom, grace, and love for one another.
Further, Paul points out there are needs that should be met. God provides for needs through blessing His people to be a blessing and bring glory to the Father.
V. 13 Show hospitality
Paul isn’t talking about that once a year invite to a small group of people to enter your home. Instead, hospitality is to be a regular practice for the people of God. We shouldn’t begrudge hospitality (1Peter 4:9; Heb 13:1; Lev 19:33-34). And church elders are called to model hospitality (1Tim 3:2).
– Persons who have refrigerator rights… bc they’re family.
– Hospitality = φιλοξενίαν: a compound word for love and stranger; love for outsiders.
– Hospitality for purpose of mission: “Where strangers become friends and friends become family.”
– Matthew 9:10 “And as Jesus reclined at table in the house behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.”
Christians must be known for love to hate evil.
Paul’s view of love is not superficial or mere sentimentality, but has a strength and sobriety to all that is around us. He exhorts Christians to “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Rom 12:9). The word “abhor” is very strong language and could also be translated as “intensely hate,” “detest,” or “loathe.” Paul is saying that one’s love must not only be good hearted toward things that are right, but also a hatred for things that are wrong. “Holding fast” or is very intimate language and is used of a man and woman (cf Mat 19:5; 1Cor 6:16-17). Paul wants us to be “joined/glue together” to godliness.
We live in a world that is polluted with the poison of evil. In our homes and the palm of our hands are all kinds of immorality, impurity, violence, foolishness, and filth are promoted in our world. As Christians, we must not contaminate our souls with triviality and trash. Our greatest apologetic in a sin-poisoned world is a unique, differentness, integrity, and set-apart holiness.
– Psalm 1:1-2 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But his delight in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.”
– Psalm 97:10 “O you who love the LORD, hate evil!”
– Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil.”
– Galatians 5:16 “But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
– Ephesians 5:18 “And do not get drunk on [worldliness] but be filled with the Spirit”
Shovel deep for the roots of evil… what hard choices do you need to make?
Illus: If you’ve ever been to Niagara Falls then you know there are several vantage points that give a unique perspective of the falls. There’s the fenced border on both the USA & Canadian side. There are hotel views on the Canadian side. There’s a tower view restaurant on the Canadian side. But the best view is The Maid of the Mist boat ride where they provide you with a poncho because they literally take you into the Falls.
Likewise, how much of Jesus we experience is determined by how close we choose to get to Him. His impact in our lives is determined by the intimacy that we choose; which our relationship is often determined by the level of our repentance. Ultimately, apart from holiness no one will see the Lord (cf. Matthew 5:8; Hebrews 12:14).
Jesus loves us even in our evil (Rom 5:8).
Jesus’ love is without hypocrisy… He isn’t fake or fickle, but pursues us with grace and accountability – also why we have Holy Spirit / Scripture / and Church.
Jesus’ love is unimaginably hospitable to move us from outsider to friend to adopted family.
God isn’t seeking revenge against us but calls us to repentance so we can find forgiveness in Jesus.
– Commence with God.
– Connect with others… church.
– Closer through repentance…