OK, last week I forgot to bring my voice recorder with me, and therefore didn’t record the message. This week I brought it with me, placed it on the pulpit, had it turned on and selected “RECORD.” I don’t know what happened after that, all I know is that there is no recording. So, for the second week in a row I have a written summary of my message.
Last week we looked at the first thing that the Lord expects of us in a local church. We are to be engaged in the work of a local church, that’s what God expects. We are to serve as Jesus served (humbly), working together, doing what each of us does best (using our gifts that God has given to us). This week, we look at an added ingredient in that life of service, love.
The passage of Scripture is found in Romans 12:9-13…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. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (ESV)
Loving Like Jesus Loved ~ Romans 12:9-10
As we serve, one of the most important aspects of our service must be a genuine love. We must love the people that God calls us to serve. There is no room for hypocrisy in this service of love. It must be absolutely genuine. Coupled with that genuine love, however, is a strong hatred of all that is evil. The word picture from the original Greek of evil is something that is sick, twisted, or perverse.
We may be asked whether or not our love is genuine; one way we can answer that question is by showing brotherly affection to those we love. Brotherly affection is another way of saying we must treat people like family, and not just objects to be used. They aren’t numbers to add to a roll, they are family that needs genuine love and affection.
This brotherly affection also ought to lead us to an attitude that brings honor to those around us. Paul told us in this passage that we ought to outdo one another in this category. In other words, we are supposed to become a mutual admiration society.
That’s how Jesus loved people…that’s how we’re supposed to do it, as well.
Being Consistent In Our Faith ~ Romans 12:11-12
One of the things that people are always looking for is consistency. They want to see us acting in a manner that is consistent with our words. Paul gives us several things to watch out for in this area.
First, we must be eager in our service of the Lord. When God calls out we should be the first to stand up and exclaim, “Here I am, send me!” Too many Christians are eager to proclaim, “There they are, send them!” Along with this eagerness there is supposed to be some enthusiasm. Even when God has called us to do something that isn’t very glamorous, we are supposed to do it with enthusiasm. If we aren’t eager and enthusiastic to serve the Lord, what message do we send to those whom we are serving?
While we are serving, there will come days that are harder than others. We are going to have bad days every now and then. Our way of facing those bad days is also under scrutiny. Paul tells us here in this passage to rejoice in hope. We must always remember that the worst day of all (when Jesus was crucified), brought about the greatest miracle of all (salvation for sinners). We are to serve the Lord while patiently enduring those things that trouble us. The only way to accomplish this is through consistent prayer. Paul uses a word here that means that we are to attach ourselves to prayer. Prayer ought to be something that happens in our daily life just as readily as breathing or eating.
Showing Our Love In Action
It is one thing to tell someone that you love them, it is another to actually demonstrate that love. We must be the kind of Christian that demonstrates genuine love. It starts with a genuine love for the saints. A saint is simply a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. If Jesus is your Savior, then you are a saint. This genuine love, Paul declares, will ‘contribute’ to the needs of the saints. This may make it seem like all we have to do is write a check or drop a $20 in the offering plate. Nothing could be further from the truth. To contribute means to share with. In my mind this means I have to get my hands dirty…I have to be involved and engaged in someone’s life and be a part of the solution that they need.
Secondly, Paul says I have to seek to show hospitality. I have to look for opportunities to be hospitable. The Greek word used for hospitality lends itself to the idea of showing kindness to strangers. It’s nice to ask friends over for dinner, but what about asking the stranger into your home and showing them some genuine love and kindness? We’re supposed to be looking for those kind of opportunities.
Our neighbors, friends, and co-workers don’t need us to give them another book, tract, or recording of some sermon we want them to listen to. They need us to show them genuine love and affection, consistently living out our faith in a Godly manner, showing that our words and actions match.