Romans Bible Study # 40
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. NASB
9-10Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14-16Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody. The Message
Verse 9 Like all commands this is impossible. Like all commands, it will only be done by the grace of God, and only He will receive glory when it is done. Only those who are secure in the love of God, can truly love others. Free from selfish motivation and a need to ‘gain’ something, they love freely as they have known themselves to be freely loved. Part of love is to abhor what is evil, in Ephesians Paul says our battle is against spiritual powers. They are evil. We see what cancer does, what addiction does they are evil. ”Be angry and sin not” implies there is a ‘righteous anger‘ against some things that a passionate lover of God will feel and express. Through their prayer, through their life they will 'rage against the machine’ of evil spirits and powers of this world system. “Cling to what is good.” ‘Only God is good,’ Jesus said. Only the fruit of His life flowing through us is good. Lots of people are out there doing good things, but if God is not at the root, they are not truly and ultimately good.
Verse 10 Brotherly love, is so anti-cultural, that it is listed as one of the things that allowed the church to grow in the midst of terrible persecution. Giving preference to one another is definitely flowing up stream in a society where ‘looking out for number 1,’ is the underlying theme. The Holy Spirit produces fruit by working from the inside with power and from the outside with the word of God. God works love and honoring in us by these two ways. Again everything goes back to the mercy that we were shown and our awareness of it. Giving preference is simply trusting in God that I am taken care of and forgiven and now I am free to go and give that to others.
Verse 11 Christian workers are good workers, reliable, honest, doing their best. “Fervent in Spirit" we are not to go about our days like robots doing our duty with no joy. That is impossible for someone who truly knows their own filthiness and the wonderful grace that pulled them out of the pit. “Serving the Lord", a life-changing thought, what are you doing right now, whatever it is, you can be doing it as, ‘serving the Lord.'
Verse 12 Hope that is so real, that it causes joy to spring forth, when there is no visible reason for rejoicing. Trusting in the sovereignty of God so much that tribulation is not as real as His presence. How are we going to get out of this, how is this going to work out...prayer. Moment by moment, our trial, is a call to prayer.
Verse 13 ‘Contributing to the needs of the saints" Saints have needs, how can we be aware of them, we must be in fellowship and in each others lives in such a way that we know what those needs are and are drawn to help in any way that we can. Hospitality could be a very risky, dangerous thing in a society where Christians were being persecuted. Opening your home to a Jew in the Nazi time was hospitality that could cost you your life.
Verse 14 God is ultimately in control, so your persecutor is ‘off the hook.’ The one who is truly in control will work it all out for the good. I have been shown great mercy, and all I have to give to you in return for persecution is... mercy. Piper says that 'not punching someone’ does not require the love of God, but blessing them from your heart when they have wronged you that requires God’s love. ‘Do not curse’ is repeated elsewhere in scripture, directly from Jesus when He says “call no man fool." We as Christians are to realize the power of our tongue to bless and to curse and we are not permitted to curse, period.
Verse 15 Let the heart of others touch your heart. The context is our ‘enemy’, that makes this an impossible verse also. We need the supernatural mercy of God flowing out of us. It is one thing not to hit someone, it is quite another to bless them from our hearts. To be saddened by what saddens their heart. To rejoice when things go well with them, no matter what they did to us in the past. This is the cure for ‘taking offense’ that then lets the root of bitterness grow and defile many. We are free from the weight , the yoke of anger that we now choose not to carry around, because, there is nothing in us that wants to see their destruction. We are so overwhelmed by the mercy that has been shown to us that we have no “left over” anger to pour out on anyone, EVEN the one who offended us greatly! This is Christian love, no other religion offers it, has it, or can enliven it in one of their followers, and so, “you will be known by your love” becomes something that we live out and God is glorified, and people are drawn to Him, the only God who can make this big of a change in a human being!!
Barth -- The key is the source of love, the Primal Origin. Love may not be what God is calling for in every situation. Genuine, unfeigned, without hypocrisy, love, only God can be the source of such a thing. Our love is going to have our interests in it somehow, or it will be expecting some sort of a response that builds us up. Our love toward men shows up as a parable of our love toward God. True agape love demonstrates the existence of the invisible God. Eros deceives. It is now hot and now cold. Agape reminds us that in our whole conduct towards men it is God who must be honored; the the purity of our relation to them can never consist in our observable intercourse with them, but only in that renewing of the mind by which human intercourse is perpetually transformed and reconstituted. Agape reminds us that the purity of human intercourse cannot be measured by possible ‘success’, for the endeavor to bring about positive ‘results’ is a motion of eros. Agape consists rather in the offering of a pure sacrifice. Love is without dissimulation when its source is God. This means to seek and to serve the One in the others, which is the meaning of 1 Cor. 13.
Only the love which is strong enough to abhor that which is evil can cleave to that which is good. Love forgets --and knows; forgives--and punishes; freely receives--and utterly rejects.
verse 10 Men can be brothers only in God. Only when it is defined with God as the glue and the goal can brotherliness withstand the rebound of failure and disappointment, which is inevitable in all brotherliness with which we are familiar.
“in honor preferring one another” This action must be an unconditional, genuine preference, which expects nothing in return. Only by this can it represent the honor which we owe to God.
verse 11 “not lagging behind in diligence” This call is from God, His authority, His life are available to us to accomplish these things, (It just seems like we should pause here, selah, and be amazed, HIS LIFE is available to us, wow!) so we should not 'fall behind’ others but set the pace in love. “Fervent in spirit” Call upon Him to enliven and empower you to ‘do.’ Seek the best, the highest. “Serving the Lord” Time is given equally to every man, what you do with it, is your decision, choose God.
Verse 12 “rejoicing in hope” knowing God in hope without seeing Him, and to be satisfied that it should be so. “persevering in tribulation” Only when it is borne patiently, however, is it a protest against the course of the world. Patience means to love those who oppress us. It means to know God in tribulation without seeing Him, and to be satisfied that it should be so. This patience it is which makes of tribulation an ethical action, and gives it its significance of an advance from “Here” to “There” Patience means faith in God--here and now.
‘devoted to prayer’ God is sought and intended in prayer, it is God’s will that we should pray. This directed, prayer is the groaning within us of the Spirit which is not our spirit.
Verse 13 ‘contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.’ To do this demonstrates that we are aware of the unity of the community in Christ. Aware of the community that is around us and aware of the community of those who are Christs’ who are passing through.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. The persecutor threatens personal suffering to those who are under grace, he is not the enemy of God but His messenger; and as such he must be welcomed. This blessing means that in the midst of the human struggle for existence honor is paid to God, and in the most impressive manner we recognize the ‘One’ in the ‘other’.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. There is laughter representing life, and weeping representing death. Michal tried to stop David’s rejoicing before the ark. Job’s friends tried to check his cry of pain. We demonstrate against the form of this world, in this case, by allowing the ‘other ‘ to forget his ‘otherness’.
I am reminded of Steve’s testimony about the ‘most important person in the room’ for a NA gathering. These practical verses will be our ultimate ‘attraction not compulsion’ weapon, in the evangelism of the world. Living these verses will make us stand out as a people set apart, with a God like no other. People who see us doing this kind of living will not be able to explain it by writing us off as ‘nice guys.’ This goes way beyond that, pick an enemy to bless today and watch as the ice melts.
By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”