Sermon: "Affection and Hard Work"--Romans 12:10-11 (Continued)
The Apostle Paul
Christ’s love will naturally show itself in kindly affection toward Christian brothers and sisters (v. 10)
The word here for “be kindly affectionate” is philostorgos. The Apostle Paul commanded the Roman Christians to show this “family of God, natural affection-type of love” toward one another. Unsaved people can still show love because they are made in the image of God. However, because the Spirit of God does not dwell in them, they do not have that God-given ability to show this special kind of tenderness toward Christians.
Only Christian family members can demonstrate philadelphia-type (brotherly love) toward one another, because this type of love is derived from the truths of the gospel. Let me read a few clarifying verses so you can see how this works.
Ephesians 4:32: “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you.”
1 Thessalonians 4:9-10: “But, as touching brotherly love, you do not need me to write to you; for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.”
To repeat: Has the Lord taught the unsaved world how to forgive or to love one another? No, at least not in the same way and to the same degree that He has taught believers. God’s common grace has enabled non-Christians to forgive and to love on a human level, but the Lord has specially graced His children with His ability to love one another.
Only believers can truly act unselfishly toward one another; such can only be the case because the indwelling Spirit loves others through us.
Verse 10b reads, “Give preference to one another in honor.” The command literally reads that we should lead the way in showing respect to others. We should genuinely acknowledge the godly efforts of other Christians, and steadfastly refuse to call attention to our own work for God. Self-promotion should not be a part of a Christian’s life; in the same way, envy and jealousy should find no place in a Christian’s heart.
Let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. [Stress “let” (our freedom to decide)].
Philippians 2: 3-5: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus . . .”
If we want “team success,” we must seek to elevate others, not ourselves.
Proverbs 27:2 reads: “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth. A stranger, and not your own lips.”
Transition: (Besides being obligated to show Christ’s love, dedicated Christians have a second, closed-related responsibility: to serve others.)
Jesus said that He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.
Dedicated Christians Must Not Be Lazy, but Work Hard (v. 11).
Genuine Christians should not excuse themselves from opportunities to serve Christ, because they do not want to be inconvenienced.
Let’s take a look at several verses from Proverbs that discuss laziness.
Turn to Proverbs 6: 6-9—“Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no leader, overseer, or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.”
Still, even with this exhortation, many of us do need to learn how to rest and take some time off to refresh ourselves.
Flip over to the amusing, though sad word picture in Proverbs 26:13-16. “The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!” As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed. The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.”
Should not settle for mediocrity (that is, just “getting by”), or merely seek to maintain the status quo (that is, keep “life” the way it has always been).
J. I. Packer in his classic book Knowing God writes that the ambition of “. . . many of the soundest and most orthodox Christians . . . seems limited to building a nice, middle-class Christian home, and making nice, middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice, middle-class Christian ways, and leaving the sub-middle class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves.”
If our mind is set on maintaining our present lifestyle, we ought to rethink where we stand on this matter.
Transition: We should avoid laziness like the Plague, while striving to be industrious.
Industrious Christians should diligently engage in discipling brethren.
Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Verse 15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing (interpreting) the word of truth.”
Should take biblical risks [steps of faith]—Not the same thing as a “leap of faith”—the irrational act that the world regards as the Christian faith. Like Jonathan and his armor bearer, David versus Goliath, and Daniel and his three friends, we need to take our knowledge of God and apply it to overcoming formidable obstacles
Do not give up.
Paul wrote the Philippians about his own philosophy in 3:12-15a: “Not that I have already attained or am already perfected, but I press on that I may lay hold of that which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let us, as many as are mature, have this mind . . . .”
Show no fear of failure.
Paul told Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear (timidity, NASB), but of power and of love and of a sound mind (discipline, NASB) [2 Timothy 1:7].
Ryrie says that Christians should have fear in the sense of reverence for God, but not fear in the sense of cowardice. And oh, how so many of us act cowardly from time to time!
Somehow our values have become confused. We are zealous about building a business, fanatical about following sports teams, but apathetic and afraid about pursuing the eternal issues of salvation and righteousness.
Brethren, these things ought not to be!
Have a “boiling” spirit (v. 11b). [They are zealous, not lukewarm.]
Let’s consider first what a fervent spirit does not look like.
The Apostle John tells us about the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2. Jesus had just rebuked this body of professing believers because it had left its first love (2:4).
The church had intentionally stopped demonstrating a particular attitude, an attitude that may have encompassed both love for God and love for human beings. Jesus commanded them (1) to recall the wonderful way they once lived, (2) to change their mind about their current behavior (“repent”), and (3) to resume showing loving actions toward others. Christ warned them that unless they did so, He would no longer use them as a local church to do great deeds (v. 5).
The apostle also indicates in Revelation 3:15-19 that the church at Laodicea was complacent and spiritually ignorant.
You remember that Jesus told them that they were lukewarm believers. They were saying ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ (v. 17a). They were unaware that they were wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked (v. 17b). So He advises them to buy from Me gold refined by fire (v. 18a), that you may become rich, and white garments that you may clothe yourself (v. 18b), and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eyesalve to anoint your eyes, that you may see (v. 18c). (V. 19)--Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Much of the church in the Western world today doesn't even know that we are in a spiritual desert, because our material wealth hides from us our real neediness.
What were the symptoms of spiritual problems in Laodicea?
They declared self-sufficiency (v. 17a).
They showed ignorance of their true spiritual status (v. 17b)
What was Jesus’ biblically wise remedy? Godly Counsel
1. Recognize true gold [a tried and refined godly character] (v. 18a)
1 Pet.1: 6-7--in this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
2. Receive true righteousness [having put on Christ] (18b).
3. Regain true perception [see reality from Christian worldview] (v. 18c)
4. Recall true repentance [change their mind about their lifestyle] (v. 19)
Reflect seriously upon what a “boiling” spirit looks like. Luke used the same word (zeontes) in Acts 18:25. There he wrote that Apollos “being fervent in spirit, spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord . . .” He possessed a diligent, enthusiastic spirit as he instructed people in the way of Jesus.
I’d love to see more of that type of spiritual energy in my life. How about you?
The final characteristic of an industrious believer is that he serves the Lord (v. 11c)
He regards himself as a slave of God and righteousness. Romans 6:17-18 say, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves to sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were entrusted. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”
A bondservant has no rights of his own, except those given to him by his master. Have you come to the place in your life where you freely admit Christ’s lordship over everything?
Transition: (Not only must dedicated Christians show Christ’s love and serve the Lord fervently, but they should also persevere through difficulties with joy and believing prayer).
© 2014 glynch1