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Thursday, October 22 2020

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

Romans 12:1-8 establishes the foundation upon which 12:9-21 is built. In verses 1-8, we saw Paul painting with a “broad brush”, showing us generally what Christian discipleship requires; offering our bodies as a living sacrifice, etc. In today’s study we will see him stepping closer to the canvas, working with a finer brush to colour in detail regarding specific attitudes and actions that must grow out of the principles established in verses 1-8.

PART 1 - VERSES 9-13:  THIRTEEN ESSENTIAL ATTITUDES/BEHAVIOURS

“9 Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honour. 11 never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; 12 constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], 13 contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.” AMP

In these five verses, Paul lists thirteen behaviours that the Christian should adopt. The list begins with love. Love sets the tone, and the other dozen desired behaviours grow out of love. They are as a matter of fact, natural expressions of love.

1. Exhibit Sincere and Active Love (Vs 9a). The NLT says “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” Paul refers to Agape - love without a selfish agenda—love that seeks what is good for the beloved.

2. Hate Evil (Vs 9b) Hate is a strong word meaning to dislike, to abhor, or to have a horror of. The proper Christian response to evil is not simply to avoid it, but to be repelled by it. We hate evil, because evil has the potential to destroy the beloved. We must hate the sin while loving the sinner; evil-hating is one of the ways that we demonstrate genuine-loving.

3. Hold Tightly (Cling) to Good (Vs 9c)What Paul is calling us to do here, is to have a very strong attachment, to glue ourselves, or connect ourselves to what is good. Just as tendons bind bone to muscle.

4. Be Devoted to Each Other (Vs 10a). Paul shifts from agape love to family love and brotherly love. Family love is special, because the family is special. Members of healthy families know each other’s weaknesses, but love each other anyway. When trouble looms, the family is a refuge and strength second only to God. The same should apply to the Body of Christ.

5. Prefer One Another (Vs 10b). Instead of wanting to outdo others in the sense that we win and they lose. So we can feel better about ourselves and have people admire us, Paul calls us to different kind of ambition-behaviour. He calls us to “be tenderly affectionate one to another in honor”—to focus on satisfying the other person’s need for approval. There are many ways to accomplish this: remembering birthdays, saying thanks, complimenting them, encouraging them to understand that they have important gifts, etc.

6. Make Diligence Your Watchword (Vs 11a). Never be lazy; instead be careful and persistent in your work. The AMP says: “never lagging behind in diligence” instead be in the forefront!

7. Be Zealous (Passionate) (Vs 11b). Paul admonishes us not to let our zeal subside. Whatever you are engaged in with the Lord, let it convey passion, enthusiasm and conviction.

8. Serve God Enthusiastically (Vs 11c). The Greek word used here speaks of slave-like service—service under bondage. As Christians, we serve under obligation.

9. Rejoice in Hope - constantly (v. 12a). Because of our confidence in Christ; not because of things (money, power, prestige) that, in the eyes of the world, should produce joy and hope because they don’t. They may provide “joy” that feeling of great pleasure and happiness but it fades quickly, leaving the individual feeling as restless and empty as ever. We find joy and hope in the assurance that our lives count, not just now, but also for eternity. (Titus 2:13) tells us what this hope is.

10. Be Steadfast and patient in distress” (v. 12b). Paul refers to Christians exhibiting tough endurance. To keep the faith, even though suffering. To bear our afflictions bravely.

11. Be devoted to prayer (v. 12c). The AMP adds: “continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength.” Prayer is one of the channels through which the Christian receives strength. First century Christians, suffering persecution, required constant prayer to gain the strength to keep the faith. So do we.

12. Contribute to the needs of God’s people (v. 13a). Don’t be an onlooker when it comes to meeting the needs of God’s people. Take a constant interest in their needs. (Acts 6:1; 2Cor. 8:13-14, Jas1:27)

13. Pursue [the practice of] hospitality (v. 13b). Paul is advocating that we actively look for opportunities to provide hospitality. To be pursue a thing implies we are invested in it.

PART 2 - VERSES 14-19: NINE ACTIONS THAT DIFFERENTIATES

“14 Bless those who persecute you [who cause you harm or hardship]; bless and do not curse [them]. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty [conceited, self-important, exclusive], but associate with humble people [those with a realistic self-view]. Do not overestimate yourself. 17 Never repay anyone evil for evil. Take thought for what is right and gracious and proper in the sight of everyone. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” AMP

1. Bless Don’t Curse (Vs. 14) Paul calls us to meet violence, not with violence, but with blessing—a shocking idea, but not original with Paul: Jesus calls us to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:38-44). In the Lord’s prayer (Luke 6:37). At the cross. (Luke 23:34). Stephen (Acts 7:60), Paul in (1 Corinthians 4:12), and finally (1 Peter 3:9).

2. Identify with the Joys and Sorrows of Others (v. 15). We often observe people jealous of other people’s good fortune and judgmental about their bad fortune. We should be different!

3. Live in harmony with one another; (v. 16a) literally, “thinking the same thing toward one another.” While this does not require us to agree at every point, it does require us to be agreeable.

4. Be Humble (v. 16b). Be as mindful of another’s worth as you are your own. Remember you are what you are by God’s grace and not your effort. Rom 3:24

5. Do Not Overestimate Yourself (v. 16c). This is good advice for every human relationship. Humility draws people near, but conceit repels.

6. Never repay anyone evil for evil (v. 17a) is similar in meaning to “Bless those who persecute you; bless, and don’t curse” (v. 14).

7. Live Nobly in the Sight of All (v. 17b). We must be careful, not only about proper conduct, but also about appearances. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. This is not eye service but preventing those who are weak in faith from stumbling. The more visible our position, the more careful we must be.

8. Live at Peace with Everyone (v. 18). Here, we see Paul inserting two qualifications for living at peace with everyone (a) “If possible” and (b) “as far as it depends on you”. There are, unfortunately, people who will not allow us to live in peace, and Paul says that we do our part to establish peaceful relationships.  He doesn’t hold us responsible for the other person’s response to our efforts.  We can’t control the other person; we can control only ourselves.

9. Don’t Seek Revenge (v. 19). Paul tells us not to seek vengeance (also see 14, 17). The reason is simple—we can trust God to do the right thing. If a person deserves punishment, God will take care of it, whether now or in the Day of Judgment. Seeking revenge is consuming! Leaving the matter in God’s hands solves a host of problems. For one thing, God is a perfect judge, and will not make a mistake. For another, God is in a position to insure that justice is served, whereas we might put ourselves in physical or legal jeopardy by seeking vengeance.

Verses 20-21 CONCLUSION 

““20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good.” AMP

When Paul tells us in verse 20 to feed and to give drink to our enemy, he was using food and drink as metaphors for any kind of needed help. If we were to see our enemy stuck in a ditch, this verse would call us to lend a helping hand, instead of saying “serves them right!” “You will heap burning coals on his head” implies you will make the recipient of your grace burn with shame at having treated you badly. Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Vs 21). Does the end really justify the means?  This verse says that it doesn’t.  If we use evil means to achieve a worthwhile end, our evil means will compromise both our character and our witness.  If we are to accomplish what Christ has called us to do, we must accomplish it through the ultimate Christian virtue, love. That expresses itself in these attitudes and actions.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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