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Romans 12:9-21

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Title: Love Without Borders

INTRODUCTION

CONNECTION: When asked about the most important commandment in the Bible, Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength.” He then added that there is a second commandment that is indicative as to whether or not the first commandment is being followed: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” On another occasion, Jesus told the disciples that the world would be able to recognize his followers by their love for one another. In the passage that we are looking at this morning, Paul makes it clear that your love of others - both in and out of the church - is to be markedly different than the normative.
CONTEXT: In light of the “mercies of God,” Paul has encouraged us to sacrifice ourselves by giving ourselves over to being transformed by the mind that is being renewed by the Spirit and not being conformed by the world (external vs. internal), which will be expressed in our serving God with the spiritual gifts that he has given to us. He then clarifies that the evidence of our transformation by the internal power will be the way we love both the lovable and the unloveable.
TRANSITION: There are 2 categories of loving responses to the lovable and the unlovable:
[In response to the gift of salvation, Paul has exhorted us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice that is, which we discovered is expressed in the context of serving sacrificially in the church. Paul now outlines what is to be considered the evidence that such a sacrificial life is being lived.]

BODY

I. Sacrificial Love for the Lovable (9-13)

A. Love Others Genuinely (9-13)
9a Let love be genuine.

A. Cling to the Good (9b)

9b Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

B. Consider Others First (10)

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. [can’t have false humility while honoring another]

C. Continue Serving the Lord (11)

11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

D. Continue in Praise, Perseverance, and Prayer (12)

12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

E. Contribute to Needy Believers (13)

13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Many historians believe that central to the rise of Christianity was the simple fact that Christians generously loved each other and their neighbours.
They point out that in the ancient world mercy was widely seen as a character defect that ran counter to justice. Justice demanded people get what they deserved and was seen as appropriate, where mercy extended grace, love, and kindness to people who had done nothing to deserve it. Yet the Christians valued mercy.
Christian communities became places where people tended to live longer and healthier lives, for when they suffered sickness, poverty or mishap they had brothers and sisters in Christ who provided for their need. And Christians extended love way beyond the boundaries of family and congregation to their pagan neighbours.
In 251 A.D. for example, a great plague struck the Greco-Roman world. Memories were revived of a plague a century earlier in which more than a third of the population died. Fear was everywhere. Those who could afford it fled to the countryside. Those who could not remained in the cities. When they went to the temples they found them empty, the priests having fled. The streets were filled with those who had become infected, their families left with no option but to push them out the door. Christian communities however took an entirely different approach. They saw it as their responsibility to love the sick and dying, so they took them into their homes and nursed them. This action meant that many people recovered who otherwise would have died. Historians suggest that elementary nursing could have reduced the mortality rate by as much as two thirds, but it also cost a number of Christian carers their lives.
So striking was the Christian commitment to generous love that when the fourth century Emperor Julian sought to restore paganism to the Empire he instructed the pagan priesthood to follow the example of the Christians.
The practical application of charity was probably the most potent single cause of Christian success. The pagan comment ‘see how these Christians love one another’ (reported by Tertullian) was not irony. Christian charity expressed itself in care for the poor, for widows and orphans, in visits to brethren in prison or condemned to the living death of labor in the mines, and social action in time of calamity like famine, earthquake, pestilence, or war.
So striking was the Christian commitment to generous love that when the fourth century Emperor Julian sought to restore paganism to the Empire he instructed the pagan priesthood to follow the example of the Christians:
Why, then, do we think that this is enough, why do we not observe that it is their [Christians] benevolence to strangers, their care for the graves of the dead and the pretended holiness of their lives that have done most to increase atheism [Julian’s word for Christianity]? I believe that we ought really and truly to practice every one of these virtues… For it is disgraceful that, when no Jew ever has to beg, and the impious Galilaeans support not only their own poor but ours as well, all men see that our people lack aid from us. 
“Pastor, there are no plagues for me to love others through.” Yes, but there are plenty of problems to love your brothers and sisters through.
Who are you loving sacrificially right now? Next week?
TRANSITION: Not only is there a sacrificial love for the lovable, there is a . . .

II. Supernatural Love for the Unlovable (14-21)

A. Treat Others Sensitively (14-16)

1. Careful with Your Words (14)

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

2. Conscience of Others Feelings (15)

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

3. Cautious in How You Act (16)

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
TRANSITION:

B. Live With Others Peaceably (17-21)

1. Trust God’s Justice (17-19)

17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
19 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.”

2. Treat Evil with Good (20-21)

20 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.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
There is no prescribes limit to your kindness to those who treat you unkindly.
“No, Peter,” General Washington said. “I cannot grant you the life of your friend.”
It takes a long time to fill a glass with drops of water. Even when the glass seems full, it can still take one, two, three, four, or five or more additional drops. But if you will keep at it, there is at last that one drop that makes the glass overflow.
It takes a long time to fill a glass with drops of water. Even when the glass seems full, it can still take one, two, three, four, or five or more additional drops. But if you will keep at it, there is at last that one drop that makes the glass overflow.
“My friend!” exclaimed the old preacher. “He’s the bitterest enemy I have.”
The same applies to deeds of kindness. In a series of kindnesses there is at last one that makes the heart run over.
“What?” cried Washington. “You’ve walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in different light. I’ll grant your pardon.” And he did.
Peter Miller took Michael Wittman back home to Ephrata—no longer an enemy but a friend.
Green, M. P. (Ed.). (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor’s illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Sinners respond sinfully when sinned against - that is natural. That is why if you are patient, kind, and forgiving, when sinned against, then you know God’s grace has visited you - that is supernatural. And through your supernatural love, God’s grace may visit the unlovable.
Sinners respond sinfully when sinned against - that is natural. That is why if you are patient, kind, and forgiving, when sinned against, then you know God’s grace has visited you - that is supernatural.
How do you respond when sinned against, naturally or supernaturally?
TRANSITION:

CONCLUSION

Loving others sacrificially and supernaturally is your response and evidence of what God has done in your life, and he can use your love to bring grace into other people’s lives.
These verses summarize the core of Christian living.
(1) If we love someone the way Christ loves us, we will be willing to forgive.
(2) If we have experienced God’s grace, we will want to pass it on to others. And remember, grace is undeserved favor.
How are you doing at expressing the love of Christ?
Have you experienced the love of Christ?
If not friend, here is your chance [Gospel].
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