Faithlife Sermons

When Love Comes to Town

Romans  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:03:21
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Christian Love

Let love be without hypocrisy
Christian love should be authentic (not fake, but reliable, trustworthy)
Not for personal gain
Not for others to applaud us
Not so others will be indebted to us
Christian love should be objective rather than subjective
Subjective love - based on preference, feelings, opinions
Objective love - based on the central truth that all people bear God image so, all people have value and worth.
John 3:16 - anyone can be a whosoever
Christian love should cultivate growth
Lives of others - speaking the truth in love to others concerning their need for a savior, and the hope that is found in Jesus
Our own lives - hating the sin in our own lives because it is not beneficial to ourselves or others, but rather harmful.
Christian love is not selfish, but self-less...
John Piper gives a great illustration about our selfishness in light of scripture...
The physical force of gravity pulls everything to the center of the earth. In order to break free from earth-centered life, thousands and thousands of pounds of energy have to push the space shuttle away from the center. There is also a psychological force of gravity that constantly pulls our thoughts and affections and physical actions inward toward the center of our own selves and our own homes.
Therefore the most natural thing in the world is to neglect hospitality (love and compassion to others). It is the path of least resistance. All we have to do is yield to the natural gravity of our self-centered life, and the result will be a life so full of self that there is no room for hospitality. We will forget about it. And we will neglect it. So the Bible bluntly says, "Stop that!" Build a launching pad. Fill up your boosters. And blast out of your self-oriented routine. Stop neglecting, and start practicing...
Paul will now give examples (like a proverb) of how Christian love...
Seeks to benefit those within the body of Christ
Seeks to bless those outside of the body of Christ
Seeks to honor and imitate Jesus

Christian love seeks to benefit those within the body of Christ.

Romans 12:9–12 ESV
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Next few verses, really discipleship…starts with brotherly affection.
Thanksgiving/Christmas - Our time more focused on family
Visit Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles
Watch the parade or a football game
Share stories of school, work, hobbies (hunting)
Share a meal, play a game…there is a special closeness (blood)
Paul has said, we are one body…we are family (by Jesus’ blood)
Christ has redeemed us, we have a special bond/closeness that breaks all gender, ethnic and cultural barriers…brothers/sisters
Just as our natural families hopefully help care for and nurture us, and seek our benefit, our spiritual family should seek to benefit others in the family of Christ.
How do we seek to benefit our brothers and sisters?
Outdo one another in showing honor
Everyone enjoys when they are served/honored.
Cruise - Make your bed, turn the bed down, towel animals
Justin’s Birthday - Enjoyed being the center of attention, the cake, the singing, the celebration.
As Christians, do we enjoy honoring/serving others more than being served/honored?
Are we seeking to serve, or to be served?
How can I serve my family, friends, co-workers?
How can I serve my church, my community?
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit.
Not Slothful in Zeal - Negatively he is saying be diligent, responsible, work
Be Fervent in Spirit - Literally “boiling or bubbling over”, be passionate
Do, but don’t just do, be passionate in your doing
Christianity is not a methodical routine absent of warmth, but we should be a passionate people...
Where does this passion come from and what causes it to endure, even in our suffering, in persecution and tribulation.....Our hope.
Matthew Henry
The joy and peace of believers arise chiefly from their hopes. What is laid out upon them is but little, compared with what is laid up for them; therefore the more hope they have, the more joy and peace they have, Christians should desire and labor after an abundance of hope.
c. So Paul says as you serve in this hope
i. Rejoice in the future promise of a restored world
ii. Endure in the midst of suffering and challenges
iii. Be constant and devoted to prayer for guidance/strength

Christian love seeks to bless those outside of the body of Christ.

Romans 12:13–20 ESV
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 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. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
We do not just “look out for our own”
Seek to show hospitality
In the Greek, this one word shows the idea that is trying to be conveyed in the way it is written.
The word hospitality is literally made combining the greek words for stranger and friend...
This is it, using our resources to benefit those around us, to form relationships that allow us to share the goodness of God’s grace.
We share in life experiences helping others see through gospel lenses...
We weep with those who weep…pointing them to Christ
We rejoice with those who rejoice…pointing them to Christ
We don’t rejoice when they weep or weep when they rejoice…we are empathetic and we celebrate and mourn alongside them.
As we love objectively, we see the value and worth in the outcast and those who feel un-lovable.
I will give an elementary example here....sitting with the kid who has no friends at lunch.
Maybe they smell bad
Maybe they have a weird voice
Maybe they pick their nose…and eat it
But God is calling us to love them, to invite them to sit at our table, to buy them lunch
What about those who who have wronged us?
I want to make a distinction did they hurt you?
They said something about my momma, they parked in my spot
OR..they raped me, they sexually abused me as a child
There is a distinct difference...
I say this because I read this week about a girl who was molested by a man in her church, and the church responded by telling her (as a child), that she had to forgive and forget and made her verbally tell her abuser she was sorry, and hug.
The church has a responsibility to report this kind of horrible crime against other image bearers of God and in no way is Paul saying here…just over look their sin.
I think that is why next time, we start to discuss governing authorities and why they are beneficial and what their God given purpose is…to protect those who are wronged.
Paul is not calling us to sweep things under the rug here and move on like nothing happened…but he advising us on how to to respond to evil acts committed against us.
Repay no one evil for evil but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
The law of Talion - an eye for an eye was prevalent in this time, and really this is mostly our attitude today.
If someone hurts me, I need to hurt them back…maybe even worse
This could be physical harm
This could be financial harm (money, property, job)
This could be familial harm causing divorce family problems
Paul says, that is not who you are called to be…but rather
Live Peaceably - Sometimes distance is best
There might be situations where for your safety, or because of the tremendous hurt that you move on with your life and avoid someone.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t pray about how God would have you respond to what has happened in order to heal and even pray that God would remove the bitterness you have in your heart.
Never avenge yourself
Again, this doesn’t mean that if a crime has been commited that it isn’t reported.
This doesn’t mean that if two members of the church are fighting that the elders of the church shouldn’t get involved and even put into place discipline if needed.
Paul is urging us not to try to get revenge, not to take matters into our own hands because
If you are like me, when I am emotional, when I lash back out, when I try to take matters into my own hands, it is anything but honorable
As a parent, there is this realization that you have eyes watching you....all the time. You have ears listening… to much more than you think.
Paul is saying, it isn’t worth ruining your testimony, it isn’t worth ruining relationships, and it definitely is not worth defaming the name of God.
It is so much easier to read than it is to do, but He says let God have it…Vengence is His. This doesn’t mean there won’t be justice.
God’s Justice will be had in one of two ways
The person will repent, and they will trust in the sacrifice of Jesus who died and was punished for their sin, and my sin, and your sin…so there is justice.
Or they will continue to live without repentance, continue to reject Jesus and will face the wrath of God eternally in Hell.
The question is not if there will be justice, but which kind of justice are you praying for?
On the Contrary, if he is hungry feed him…heap bruning coals on his head.
Paul says here that a self-less, objective, cultivating Christian love will seek to benefit, even our enemies.
That we can show them the love of Christ, and cause them to consider, to think about the kind of love that is given to someone who absolutely doesn’t deserve it.
This is the type of love we are called to give, because it is the type of love we have been given

Christian love seeks to honor and imitate Jesus

Paul summarizes how we are to love our enemies in Romans 12:21
Romans 12:21 ESV
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
It reminds me of a famous quote from Martin Luther King, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”
One of my favorite U2 songs, is done with U2 and BB King called “When love comes to town”. It talks about the bad choices that are made, the sinful lifestyle that is lived before Jesus comes to our rescue. The love of Jesus is powerful and it changes lives because it is so, amazing that it is given to an undeserving rebellious people.
Listen how Philippians echoes and expounds on what Paul has already said here....
Philippians 2:1–11 ESV
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This is the Savior that would come to us on Christmas morning, this is our hope, this is our King…this is Love
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