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Sermon: "Support and Hospitality"--Romans 12:13
The Apostle Paul
Second sub-pt.: We must help meet special needs of Christians.
1. Aid the especially needy
Turn to James 2:15-17
If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
Good works will overflow from the life of a genuinely saved person. If generosity does exists in a person, it may indicate that saving faith does not exist in him either.
Go over a few pages to 1 John 3:16-17 for another example.
“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
Do we have this type of sacrificial love for one another? I believe we do, but can excel still more.
Another group that has very special needs is the Christian worker, the missionary.
2. Support Christian workers
Let’s consider Philippians 4 for a few moments. Paul writes in vv. 14-16
“Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.”
What can believers who faithfully support missionaries and other Christian workers expect from God? “And my God shall supply . . .”
Let’s all turn next to Romans 15
Verses 22-24 read: “For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you, whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for awhile.”
Traveling missionaries should receive financial help from sending churches. Let’s think about these matters for a moment: today’s universal Church spends billions on our own things, but contributes only millions to people who are laboring in the field. I hope you agree with me that that is not the way it should be.
On the flip side, let me be quick to point out . . . 2 John 10-11—Believers must not help anti-Christian missionaries and teachers
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine”—that is, belief in the full deity of Jesus—“do not receive him into your home or greet him, for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”
How do you respond when JWs or Mormons come to your door?
One individual (who by all accounts believes what JWs do) does not come to my door, but he does run the campus ministry at the University of Phoenix where I occasionally teach online. I believe that if God gives us the responsibility and opportunity to refute sub-Christian doctrine, we should; we should not allow them to get a foothold. However, I do not believe we should welcome them into our homes.
TS: (Let’s now briefly consider who Paul believed should receive the bulk of our support. Romans 12:13a says, “Contributing to the needs of the saints.”)
3rd sub-point: We must support the “saints”—not a special group of elite believers, but just ordinary Christians
Paul wrote in Romans 15:25-27. You need not turn there. Just listen carefully.
“But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors.”
Health care ministries—such as Samaritan Ministries—enable Christians to share their medical bills with one another. Members must show evidence of a Christian conversion; they also must belong to a Bible-believing church. Subscribers to these newsletters will most likely not be helping people whose health problems result from ungodly lifestyles.
We have a Deacons’ Fund in our church. Life is difficult. Many people need financial help from time to time. As long as they’ve sought to meet their own living expenses, they shouldn’t feel ashamed to make their needs known to their brothers and sisters. We should be there for them.
How much better life might be if the State allowed us to keep more of what we earned, so that we could dispense it to causes that would truly benefit the country and the world! Instead of Planned Parenthood, we could be supporting a home for unwed mothers.
TS: (Let’s return to our text and read the rest of verse 13: it says “practicing hospitality” (NASB) and “given (or pursuing) hospitality (NKJV).
Merrill Unger, in his Bible Dictionary, writes some pertinent words about hospitality:
“In oriental lands, and still in some countries of belated civilization, it was and is felt to be a sacred duty to receive, feed, lodge, and protect any traveler who might stop at the door. The stranger was treated as a guest, and men who had thus eaten together were bound to each other by the strongest ties of friendship, which descended to their heirs, confirmed by mutual presents. With the Greeks hospitality was a religious duty, as was the case with Hebrews, enjoined by the law of Moses.”
Leviticus 19:34—“The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
1. The term dioko—literally means “pursue, run after, strive after.” The NASB translation does not seem to do justice to this term. The NKJV has “given” and in the margin, it says “pursuing.” I think that word better expresses the energetic attitude we should have toward showing hospitality.
2. The term philoxenia (translated hospitality) literally means “love of strangers.” So, we are to “pursue a love of strangers.”
Let’s look briefly at three examples of showing love toward “strangers.”
The first is found in Genesis 18
No need to turn there. You know the story. Yahweh appears to Abraham as Christ before He became a man. Two other “men” accompany the Lord, and they visit with Abraham while he’s resting at his tent door. When Abe sees them, he immediately recognizes Adonai. So, he humbly rushes to greet Him, and shows them all hospitality. Sarah makes some pancakes for these strangers, and tells the servant to prepare a veal dinner. Abraham also provides butter and milk for them. How can we apply this example? I think it indicates that we should be generous when we show hospitality.
The second example appears in Genesis 19
This text tells us that the two “men” who accompanied the Lord were, in fact, angels whom God had sent to investigate personally the moral climate in Sodom. When the angels enter the city, Lot treats them respectfully, offering them traditional hospitality.
Third, we find in Luke 14—Jesus’ Teaching
Jesus is having dinner with a Pharisee leader in his home, and He tells two parables. Half of the first one He directs toward those invited. He advises them to take the lowly place at the table. The other half of the first parable He directs toward the host, and tells him to invite the poor.
In His second story, Jesus warns the invitees. At the party he sees their tendency to promote themselves—Quote--He noted how they chose the best places.” Jesus instructs those in error not to sit in “the best place” but “in the lowest place.”
Near-Eastern social custom dictates that the most distinguished dignitaries sit in the places of honor. So, it is better for a guest to humble himself and take the lowliest seat. In this way, he’ll avoid humiliation by not having to hear the host tell him, “Hey, you, move to the last seat. Mr. Bigwig here belongs where you are.” If you start in the lowliest position, the only way you can go is up. If you exalt yourself, God will humble you; but if you humble yourself, God will exalt you.
Christ counsels his host about whom and whom not to invite to a meal. He says that to have the right kingdom mindset, the host should invite the poor (those who cannot repay), not the well-to-do and relatives (those who can repay).
I conclude this point by referring to two more passages that talk about our obligation to be hospitable.
Hebrews 13:1-2—“Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
1 Peter 4:9—“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”
So, how are we doing with this practice?
TS: (We’ve found so far that dedicated believers share with others financially when they can. They also show hospitality primarily toward those who cannot repay them. Next, Paul instructs the Romans (and us) to respond the right way toward those who actively work against them.)
© 2014 glynch1