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Sermon: "Show Christ's Love" Romans 12:9 (Main Point #1)
The Apostle Paul
I. Dedicated Christians Must Show Christ’s Love (vv. 9-10).
If we are going to show His love to others, we must submit our will to His.
Romans 12:9a says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” This part of verse nine (as well as the four verses we will examine today) does not contain an imperative form of a verb. This first segment literally reads, “The love (agape) is without a mask.” Doesn’t make much sense in English, does it? However, I believe the translators rendered it rightly as a command.
From the language Paul uses here, we see that believers face a decision: we can either allow Christ’s love to shine through us, or we can try to love others without His control-- in which case we will surely fail.
Make no mistake. As regenerate people, we are responsible for our behavior. When He saved us, the Holy Spirit set our will free so that we would choose to do the right thing. For us to make the right choice time after time about loving people, we must first examine our motives.
Let me make this examination intensely personal. While preparing this sermon, I asked myself, “Why am I doing this? Is it because I want to make the love of Christ known so that He alone is glorified, or am I also doing it in any degree for fleshly reasons? We must all ask ourselves, “Why do we do what we do?”
We must not allow our self-centered flesh (however we wish to define the term “flesh”) to wrest control and destroy what good Christ can do for others through us.
Paul wrote in Romans 6:13 that we should not “present our members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present ourselves to God as being alive from the dead and our members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
We’ll return to this idea of motivation a little later after we discuss another concept: hypocrisy. Again, the verse reads: Let love be without hypocrisy.
If we would truly succeed in substantially demonstrating Christ’s love to others, no hypocrisy will surface. That is a statement of fact, not a hoped-for outcome. When the Spirit takes over and loves other people through us, little or nothing of our will will stand in the way and substantially corrupt these relationships.
So, what exactly is “hypocrisy”? When classical Greek dramatists used the term hupokritos, they were referring to actors in their plays who used to wear masks whenever they portrayed different characters. The term Paul uses here in v. 9a is anhupokritos, a word that (as I pointed out earlier) literally means “without a mask.” Elsewhere, Paul used this same expression when he explained in 1 Timothy 1:5 that “the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere (or an unhypocritical) faith.”
Simply put, Christians who truly love others are not performers; they don’t put up a façade, a false front, or put on a mask that hides their true attitudes.
What example can we supply from Scripture of this type of hypocrisy?
The Apostle Paul records the time when he confronted Peter (as well as other Hebrew Christians) about his hypocritical stance on the gospel.
Paul writes in Galatians 2:11-14: “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?’”
Rather than portray shallow concern for others, people who love with Christ’s love demonstrate genuine, sacrificial service toward those who have needs. That we can and do act hypocritically on occasion shows that we often lose the battle we are waging with the flesh and choose to put on a mask rather than stand fast on principle.
"Love Without a Mask"
“The Parable of the Good Samaritan” in Luke 10 teaches us about love without a mask. In this story with which we are all familiar, the Lord relates how robbers severely beat and then steal from a man as he walks to Jericho from Jerusalem. Three other travelers—a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan—separately encounter this wounded fellow lying on the road. Fearing possible ritual uncleanness if they touched a dead man and not desiring to become involved in such a sordid circumstance, the former two religious folks—the priest and the Levite-- keep their distance and “pass by on the other side.”
However, the Samaritan—a member of a half-breed community much hated by the Jews—portrays a different attitude, showing compassion to the injured man. Not only does he perform first-aid on the man’s wounds, and then use his own “vehicle” to take him to a lodging place where he himself cares for him, the Samaritan also pays the motel manager a sum to cover the injured person’s recuperation. Then he promises to reimburse the innkeeper for any extra he spends to get the man well. Jesus then asks, “Which one of the three travelers is the victim’s ‘neighbor’ ”? Obviously the Samaritan alone qualifies, so Jesus commands the lawyer to emulate this man’s example.
“Who, then, is neighbor?” Yes, the person who helps the one experiencing a need is “neighbor.” However, I believe the reality goes even deeper than that. Earlier in this passage, the lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus said that part of what the lawyer had to do to inherit eternal life was to love his neighbor as himself. In other words, in order to obey God’s commandment, he had to show love toward people whom he currently despised, deemed unworthy of life, or even regarded as spiritually unsalvageable.
Let me ask you a question: “Besides the Samaritans, whom did the Jewish leaders hate and even regard as a Samaritan? (John 8:48—“Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”)
People who love without a mask—like the Samaritan and Jesus-- will make themselves vulnerable—(in other words, they will willingly subject themselves to possible misunderstanding and rejection). They will involve themselves in other people’s lives on the deepest levels, even though such involvement may cost them time, money, and sometimes a considerable amount of personal discomfort or even danger.
To finish the point, what was Jesus trying to teach the lawyer?
Just this: Human beings cannot love God or their enemies perfectly; for this reason, we cannot inherit eternal life through our own supposed goodness. Jesus undoubtedly hoped that the lawyer would (1) see himself as a failure to love the Lord, his neighbor, (2) realize that he could not save himself by his own law-keeping, and (3) turn to Christ for mercy and grace.
Application: Ok, then, what must we do if we are going to demonstrate genuine Christ-like love?
We must love our enemies. Do you have any enemies? Do we as Christians have enemies?
Have you ever watched a conservative politician or pundit debate a liberal on television? It’s a regular dogfight most of the time, though sometimes they wear masks to make themselves appear reasonable and pleasant to their constituents and followers.
I ask again, “Do we love our enemies?” The Lord commanded His people to do so, did He not?
Jesus said, “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” (Matthew 5:44).
Quoting Proverbs 25:21-22, Paul wrote: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink” (Romans 12:20).
Along the same lines, do we listen respectfully to disagreeable people, and show kindness to them despite their ugly attitude toward us?
Sometimes I deal with such people online. When the conversation turns to spiritual matters, and when they realize that they cannot refute Scriptural arguments, they turn and attack me instead. I do my best to maintain civility by speaking the truth in love. Sometimes they respond well; sometimes they do not. In either event, we must show them kindness.
Now that we’ve examined the concept of hypocrisy a little, let’s revisit for a moment the question, “What is our motive for showing love?” But let’s add to the discussion the idea of pretentiousness.
Usually when we are walking according to the flesh, we pretend to love others in order to gain selfish advantage over them or to attain fulfillment of our needs. In other words, we play the game so that we can get the things we want. For example, if our ambition is to improve our religious standing, we pretend to be spiritual so that others will think well of us.
Let’s consider for a few moments the motives of the Pharisees. In His “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus addressed their practiced attitudes and warned His followers about them.
(“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:1-4).
Is our heart truly “in it,” or are we involved in service just to salve our conscience or to enhance our reputation? We must ask ourselves, “Are we ‘men-pleasers’ or ‘God-pleasers’ ”?
TS: (Not only must we submit ourselves to God’s will if the Lord’s love is to shine through us, we must detest evil both in the world and in ourselves.]
© 2014 glynch1