This is the sermon for Sunday morning, March 7th, 2010.
Practical Christianity part 5
Romans 12:14-21 ESV – 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This is the 5th sermon in our series, “Practical Christianity.” We are looking at some important teachings that the Apostle Paul gives found in Romans 12:1-15:13.
Last time we looked into Romans 12:9-13. In that text we dealt with the subject of Genuine Love. We learned in that sermon: That our love must be genuine; Genuine love hates evil but clings to the good; Genuine love is affectionate and hold other believers in the highest of respect; Genuine love is not spiritually lazy, but spiritually fervent; and Genuine love rejoices and is patient in prayer during Tribulation.
In the text that we will be dealing with this morning, we are going to continue with the theme of genuine love. We are going to look at some examples of genuine love found in verses 14-21. Within this passage, we can see similarities to what Jesus said in the Beatitudes of Matthew 5; hence the title of the sermon. Let’s begin.
Genuine love treats the persecutors in a Christ-like fashion.
Romans 12:14 ESV – Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
What do I mean by “Christ-like fashion”? Well Jesus is our example.
Luke 23:34a ESV – And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
- Jesus prayed for both those who crucified Him and those who falsely accused Him.
- Jesus prayed that God would forgive them.
We should pray that God would bless, not curse our persecutors. Barnes in his commentary states that we should pray that God does good and continues to do good to our persecutors, no matter how long and severe the persecution is.
Newell in his commentary on this verse has this to say, “This verse is not mere outward blessing, but refraining from inward reservations, or private expressions, for sometimes we speak sweetly to opposers, but our after words prove that we did not allow our hearts to go out in love to those enemies.”
Quite honestly, to pray this way is not humanly possible. It can only be done because God has taken out our heart of stone and given us a new heart – His heart – that pulsates with love toward our enemies.
Genuine love shares the joys and sorrows of life with other Believers.
Romans 12:15 ESV – Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Genuine love not only produces forgiveness toward our enemies, but a sympathetic heart toward members of God’s family. We don’t get jealous when something good happens to another believer; neither do we believe another believer gets what they deserve, or evidence of their lack of faith, when something bad happens.
We, the Body of Christ have re-injured and killed our own wounded much more than Satan and the world ever has! And that is a shame!
When fellow believers rejoice, we should do so as well. When they weep, so should we.
Genuine love tries to live in peaceful harmony with others.
Romans 12:16&18 ESV – 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Notice what verse 18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you.” Peace amongst Christians can be difficult: Why? Because believers are selfish and sinful! We want what our heart desires and then we call this the desire of the Holy Spirit; when it is nothing more that our carnality! I cannot force someone to be at peace with me, all I can do is endeavor to be at peace with them – whether they change or not.
One other thing, the truth can sometimes divide, that is understandable, but we must not be divisive. If someone is in heresy or sin, they should be rebuked once or twice, then a group of believers approach them, then taken in front of the church, and if the heresy or exposed sin is still there, then we are to have nothing to do with them. This may divide, but it is not divisive, it actually restores harmony by removing the divisive person. This is following the example that Christ laid out.
Matthew 18:15-17 ESV – 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Now Paul goes on to say, “do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.” The Analytical Literal Translation says, “stop having high things in mind.” This is more than just arrogance. It also is wanting to be recognized at the expense of others. You want to lead, to run the show, and you will run over whoever gets in your way! That is not what genuine loves does! Genuine love gives preference to others; particularly the lowly.
Lowly in Greek:
- Tapinos (tap-in-os`).
- To be depressed, abused, cast down, humbled, low estate or degree.
People like this do not need our harsh rebukes; they already get this from the world and the self-righteous. They need our comfort and the promise of the Presence of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins.
Make an effort to love and lift up those that are battling depressing times.
Genuine love doesn’t seek vengeance, but restoration with their enemy.
Romans 12:17&19-21 ESV – 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Its easy to want revenge and to see those who have abused you experience suffering and get their comeuppance. But God’s ways are higher; leave vengeance in God’s hands and treat your enemy with love in Christ. That is the only way to overcome the evil they do toward you and the evil in you that wants payback.
As we conclude, the road to genuine love is a difficult one to walk; but one we are commanded too. If you struggle with this (by the way, we all do) then ask the Lord to both forgive you and ask the help of the Holy Spirit to walk this road of genuine love mentioned in the Romans Beatitudes.