Text: Romans 12:10-13 May 1, 2011
1) This is from a general: During the years when Major General Mark Graham was commander of Fort Carson, Colorado, he became known and respected for the way he treated others. One Army colleague said, “I have never come across another general officer who was so compassionate and so concerned about the well being of his soldiers and their families.” After losing one son to suicide and another killed in action, Gen. Graham and his wife, Carol, dedicated themselves to helping soldiers and their families cope with service-related stress, depressions and loss.
2) This was from the Lord: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) Love and unity among followers of Jesus has been a great challenge in God’s church. So many bad names called on the church by people of the world is the ressult that too often people in the church don’t know how to love each other to keep the unity Jesus wanted so much to see. Before he went to the cross, he prayed for his disciples, and us, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message that all of them may be one.” (John 17:20)
GROWING LOVE AMONG CHRISTIANS:
1) Love commanded by the Lord: Then Jesus said, “By this (love one another) all men will know that you are (indeed) my disciples.” When the world looks at your church, few people care how big your building is or how many rich people in your congregation; how many programs you have or how pure your doctrine may be. Most of the world will see the church and give their respect or the lack of it by how the people in the church relate to each other. When a denomination or a church is having internal fights, can’t get along with each other, or even file sue against each other in the secular court, we have lost the divine identity Jesus wants us to have.
2) Love as brothers in family: “Be devoted in brotherly love.” (12:10) Devoted translates philostorgos, a compound of philo, friendship love, and stoge, natural love in a family not based on personal choice but on life relationship. We are put in the body of Christ, the Church, by the wisdom and authority of God. (1 Cor. 12:18) Therefore, we need to love one another regardless of our preference or desirability. Nothing may do more harm to a family than siblings stop loving one another or fight against one another. This will do more than harm to the name of the church, it also brings disgrace and shame to the name of God.
3) Love by honoring others: “Give preference to one another in honor.” (12:10b) Give preference, proegeomai, has the meaning of giving others ahead of or in front of us to honor them. Many conflicts in human relationship, be it at home, at work or in church, comes from carnal strive to be the head, the great and the honor. Jesus has so much to teach on this in Matt 20:26-27. To honor is not to flatter or to give hypocritical praise, but to show genuine appreciation and admiration. Instead of quick to find fault on each other, we are to be quick to show respect to others, to recognize virtues and accomplishments in others.
GROWING DILIGENCE IN SERVICE: (12:11)
1) Not lagging in diligence: “Not lagging behind in diligence” can be rendered “not lazy in zeal and intensity.” A few verses earlier, Paul said that Christians who have the gift of leading should exercise that gift diligently. (12:8) In the context of this chapter, diligence refers to serving God with enthusiasm to the utmost of our capacity. In the work of the Lord, there is no room for sloth or indolence. “Whatever your hand finds to do,” Solomon counseled, “verily, do it with all you might.” (Eccl. 9:10) Laziness in Christian living does not only prevents good from being done, but also allows evil to prosper.
2) But be fervent in spirit: Whereas diligence pertains mainly to action, fervent in spirit pertains to the heart, the attitude. Fervent or zeo, in Greek, means boiling. The idea here is not about boil to overheating but to have sufficient heat to generate sufficient steam to move a heavy engine like a locomotive. One of the big reasons of many failures in our service to the Lord in the church is lack of enthusiasm and indifference in the duties we are charged to perform. In encouraging the early Christians, Paul said, “Let us not losing heart in doing good (Gal. 6:9)
3) We are serving the Lord: Serving the Lord is about purpose and priority. There may be many worthy courses in our life, but we are to do things to serve THE LORD and HIS purpose. Serving the Lord means do things according to the principles and value of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord and to advance the kingdom of the Lord. When you feel that some people do not deserve your service, don’t get side tracked. You are not serving people, but serving the Lord and he deserves all our best.
GROWING IN TIME OF TRIAL: (12:12)
1) Growing in hope: “Rejoice in hope.” (12:12) Hope is important in our service to the Lord, particularly when our service doesn’t bring forth the kind of results we expect or when our service was either ignored of being misunderstood or criticized. In time of frustration, we are to be “steadfast, immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord, that our toil in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58) We can look forward to one day hearing our Lord says, “Well done, good and faithful servants.” (Matt. 25:21)
2) Growing in patience: “Be patient in affliction.” (12:12b) Being faithful servants to the Lord and His course in most cases will draw opposition or even persecution from the world. This is true from the very beginning because we are not of this world. In the face of persecution, suffering or just simple rejection, we need to grow in patience to endure any and all forms of affliction.
3) Growing in prayer: “Be devoted to prayer.” (12:12c) One of the reason God allows us to go through affliction is to drive us to be close to him. Believers who are in affliction, suffering, adversity and even deprivation and destitution will certainly pray more in sincerity, honesty and fervency. He will be devoted in prayer, in communion with his Lord, an important part of his life. Devote, proskarterew, means be strong toward something and it carries the ideas of steadfast and unwavering in pursue of, here, prayer.
GROWING THE HEART OF SHARING: (12:13)
1) Grow in sharing: “Contribute to the needs of God’s people.” (12:3) Contributing is from koinonia that means to share what you have. The main idea is community and partnership in a family. The spirit and practice of sharing is evident in the early church. (Acts 2:42-44) Peter used this term in our sharing the suffering of Christ. (1 Peter 6:17-18)
2) Grow in kinship: “Contribute to the need of God’s people.” (12:13b) The duty of being members in God’s family mandates our sharing on the needs, both material and emotional, of the people in the church because we are members of the house of God. Paul asks “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to those who are in the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10) As Christians we are to care the needs of all people and do what we can to share. Paul says we need to do this particularly to those in the God’s church. God places us in the same family, we are to share our resources to each other.
3) Grow in hospitality: ‘Pursue hospitality.” (12:13c) Pursue is from diokontes which carries the idea of pressing forward of something that demands efforts to achieve. Care for the needs of others unrelated is not something easy to do but something worth pursuing to do. Pursuing hospitality is putting efforts into caring for strangers or people unrelated to you. In today’s society, it is about giving to the needs of the poor, the under class, the less fortunate. We are not just to care those in God’s church, we are also to share to those in our community. “Do not withhold good from those who deserve which is in your power to give.” (Proverbs 3:27)
1) Love in God’s family: Nothing causes God to grieve more than the in fighting in God’s church between His children, regardless of what may be the cause, except heresy. When God’s children can’t work with each other, don’t love one another, the name of God is smeared in the worst kind. Growing to love one another is the most important issue in today’s churches and God’s people. It is the most damaging sin that can virtually destroy a church and the faith of countless otherwise faithful Christians.
2) Serve in God’s church: It is a sad statistic to see only a handful of people do the largest chunk of work in a church while the great majority just come as guests or spectators in God’s church. If we claim to be followers of Jesus, how much have we followed his examples of serving others in a sacrificial way? Spend time and efforts in serving God in His house is one of the few things we can truly bring to heaven to please God.
3) Share in God’s world: As Jesus said 2,000 years ago that we always have poor people among us in our community. They are our neighbors and they need our help in many ways. Christian church has an excellent treat record of giving to the poor and the needy from very early history to today. Let us do our best to meet the needs of those who are among us. As Jesus came to meet spiritual needs, let us give to meet physical needs.