Romans Chapter 12
KLMX March 2010
1st Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Yesterday, we left off with this passage:
Romans 12:3-8 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (4) For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, (5) so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (6) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; (7) or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; (8) he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
And again, the summary of this message so far is that Christians are not to think highly of themselves. All gifts come from God and God distributes those gifts as He sees fit. Paul urges his readers to use the gifts given to them and to use them for the edification of the body of Christ. That same exhortation could hold today. How much stronger and more vibrant would our churches be if all the members applied their gifts? I donít know for sure, but I would like to imagine that instead of being a lazy, unhealthy body, that the church could be like a trained athlete. But, those are my imaginations and itís not my church- itís Godís. Even so, Paulís urging is that "having gifts ... let us use them" and that is part of the Bible.
Having reviewed, letís turn now to todayís passage which contains further instruction for how Christians should behave:
Romans 12:9-17 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (10) Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (11) not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; (12) rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; (13) distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. (14) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (15) Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (16) Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. (17) Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
These are Paulís instructions as to how believers in Christ should behave. Unfortunately, how they actually behave is sometimes a different story. One of the most disturbing things that Iíve observed about people calling themselves Christians is the way they live two lives. Too often, people live one life on Sunday morning and another life the rest of the week. This is not the way it should be. You cannot reckon yourself dead to sin- as Paul said earlier in Romans- on Sunday, and then embrace that sin on other days. Monday, I read Paulís exhortation to "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." A "transformation" is a complete thing. You should not be conformed one day and consider yourself transformed the next. Either you are transformed or you are not. So, these descriptions from Paul are not optional characteristics of Christians. They are descriptions of how we should look and act.
Letís look at themÖPaul says "let love be w/out hypocrisy." Hypocrisy means to be "two-faced". You say one thing but do another. You might praise a person, and then whisper to someone else "I just said that to make them feel better." Thatís hypocrisy. Love isnít like that. True love is as Paul describes elsewhere:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; (5) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; (6) does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; (7) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (8) Love never fails.
Thatís love and it should be wholly without hypocrisy.
Paul says "abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good." If there are evil things in your life, push them away. Pull what is good close to you. For instance, what kind of TV do you watch? Are your shows filled with lust, murder, and envy, or are they filled with sacrifice, good deeds, and honor? What kind of books do you read? What kind of thoughts do you think? Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good.
Paulís next statement is "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another". His point to give preference to one another reminds me or another passage, namely this one:
Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (4) Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
There was a time in our church when division threatened to tear us apart. Each man wanted something different and back then we were a voting congregation. Someone put me in charge in the committee and after some prayer and consideration; I decided to implement something unusual. With the Philippians verse as my justification, I had everyone put their name in a hat. Then, I shuffled the names and had each man draw a name. They were then responsible for voting for that person. In other words, if Tom drew Joeís name, then it was Tomís responsibility to find out what Joe needs were and to vote cast his vote for him. Let me tell youÖ this really brought our group together and a lot of problems were solved right then and there. And thatís what I think the above passages are all about- consider the interests of others first, and give preference to one another.
Letís bite off a bigger chunk of Paulís text now:
Romans 12:11-13 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; (12) rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; (13) distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
What a bunch of nouns! Not lagging, fervent, serving, rejoicing, patient, continuing, distributing, givenÖ These are not the words of people who sit around idly, who come to church on Sunday and then go home and do nothing. These are action words. These are athletes of the Christian world. Now, obviously, not everyone has all of these gifts. God distributes gifts as he sees fit. Some might be fervent in spirit, some might be patient in tribulation, some are prayer warriors, some have a heart for distributing to the needs of the saints, and so forth. Some might have more than one of these gifts. The important thing, though, is that the gifts are used and that they are used for the edification of the church to the glory of God.
Alright, here comes a verse thatís tough for many to accept:
Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
And this one immediately recalls Jesusí Sermon on the Mount where he says a very similar thing, but expands on it:
Matthew 5:44-48 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (45) that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (46) For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (47) And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? (48) Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Paul is going to expand on his point, too, but letís look first at Jesusí statement. He says to love your enemies so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. God blesses both those who hate him and those who love him because He sends rain on the just and the unjust. The unjust are frequently used for the benefit of the just. The guy that fixes your tires, or the cook at the restaurant, or even the person who built this radio station might not be a Christian, but we certainly reap the benefits of their labors. And likewise, not every farmer loves God, but God nevertheless sends them rain so that their crops might grow.
Jesus now makes the point that if we only love those who love us then what reward do we have? As He says, even the tax collectors do the same. And if we only greet our brethren, well, even the tax collectors do that. Christians are to be more than that, theyíre to take the next step and bless those who persecute them, pray for their enemies, and do not curse. Sadly, though, we Christians so often fail at this task. I donít know why. I donít know if itís because people donít know their Bible, I donít know if they selectively ignore certain parts of it, or I donít know if weíre just incapable of doing these things. But I do know that the instructions are there, from both Jesus and Paul.
Hereís Paulís next instruction:
Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Now the rejoicing is easy! When others rejoice, itís easy to rejoice with them. But we should also weep with those who weep. We should share sorrows with them. Christ certainly did. At the death of Lazarus, before Jesus brought Lazarus back to life, and while all Lazarusí friends and family mourned him, we have the shortest verse of the Bible- (John 11:35) Jesus wept. Some critics ask "Why did Jesus weep? Didnít he know that he was going to bring Lazarus back?" He wept because the other were weeping. Critics also ask "Why do you Christians weep when someone dies? Arenít they in Heaven?" Thatís true. We weep because of death itself. Itís a terrible thing that our sin has brought death into the world. We weep because of the pain and suffering the deceased has undergone. We sometimes weep out of selfishness- theyíre gone to heaven and weíre not. But for whatever reason, we are instructed to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
Timeís running out and I think Iíll stop here today. Tomorrow, Iíll continue on with Romans Chapter 12. May this message glorify God, may it give you food for thought, and may the truth that is Jesus Christ shine in your heart.
Romans 12, Part 2
Romans 12, Part 4