20170319FBCAM [Anniversary Sunday]
Turn to Romans 12:9-13. Our passage there begins with the phrase:
Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation [genuine].
9 ἡ ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκριτος.
Dissimulation is the “concealment of one’s thoughts, feelings, or character” (Oxford Dictionary). You could say “Let love be without hypocrisy…pretending…faking it.” Or you could just say it in a positive sense, “Let love be genuine.”
Judas is an example of a person who pretended to love others. He pretended to love the poor. When a woman wiped Jesus’s feet with expensive ointment, Judas complained,
5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare [stole] what was put therein.(John 12:5–6)
And, of course, the kiss he placed on Jesus’s cheek in the Garden of Gethsemane as he betrayed Him marks one of history’s most despicable displays of fake love for someone.
What’s most sad about Judas’s lack of genuine love for others is that he had been walking with Jesus for three years. He had heard Jesus’s teaching and seen His love and concern for other people. Yet, Judas wasn’t changed. He didn’t get it.
To be fair, of course, the other disciples would also have their own problems, both before and after the resurrection of Jesus.
And of course, today, Christians still have struggles with having a genuine love for others.
What is said in the next verses are not just random thoughts about how Christians should live. What follows in verses 9-13 all come under the main command to “Let love be without dissimulation [genuine].”
When I study a Bible passage, I put down a main point and then I place the sub-points indented underneath the main point. That way I can easily see what the passage is about.
So with this passage, I found that “Let love be without dissimulation [genuine].” was the main idea and all the other clauses in verses 9 to 13 were indented and underneath it.
Those other clauses show us what genuine love should look like:
9 Let love be without dissimulation.
Abhor that which is evil;
cleave to that which is good.
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another
with brotherly love;
in honour preferring one another;
11 Not slothful in business;
fervent in spirit;
serving the Lord;
12 Rejoicing in hope;
patient in tribulation;
continuing instant in prayer;
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints;
given to hospitality.
What does genuine love look like? First, genuine love has…
A HATRED OF EVIL
AND A DESIRE FOR GOOD TOWARD OTHERS
Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation [genuine]. Abhor [hate] that which is evil; cleave [cling] to that which is good.
9 ἡ ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκριτος. ἀποστυγοῦντες τὸ πονηρόν, κολλώμενοι τῷ ἀγαθῷ.
Believers are, in general, supposed to hate evil and love the good as the Lord does. For example,
10 Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: (Psalm 97:10)
15 Hate the evil, and love the good, (Amos 5:15)
21 …hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21–22)
But here, in Romans 12, it’s more than a general command to love good and hate evil. It’s a part of how we are to show genuine love for one another.
“Abhor that which is evil;”—Love is not genuine when a person does something evil to someone else.
It is hypocritical to say that you are someone’s friend but behind their back you undermine them, you slander them, you gossip about them, and the like. Then, at church on Sunday morning, you smile and shake their hand like you’re glad to see them.
Genuine love will also not assume evil things about a friend without solid evidence. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:5, love “thinketh no evil.”
When someone comes up to you and says, “Did you hear that Fred did such and such…how rotten of him.” If you have a genuine love for Fred, then you will keep that to yourself and withhold any judgment until you actually talk to Fred.
And, when you do talk to him, you’ll probably find that it wasn’t true or, if it was, you’ll discover the reason behind it. You’ll desire not to condemn Fred, but to find a way to help him.
You would do this because genuine love “cleave[s; like cling wrap] to that which is good.” Genuine love will look out for the good of another person, it will seek to do good for another person.
You know who your friends are when bad times hit. If you are slandered in the community, do your friends stand up for you? If you suffer a loss, do your friends come and help you?
Flip it around, when your friends are slandered in the community, do you defend them? When your friends suffer loss? Are you there to help?
Genuine love will hate thinking and doing evil towards friends, and will seek to think good and do good to them instead.
Genuine love has…
A KIND CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
10 τῇ φιλαδελφίᾳ εἰς ἀλλήλους φιλόστοργοι· τῇ τιμῇ ἀλλήλους προηγούμενοι·
“kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.”—This is a family-oriented love; it describes the love and affection that family members have for one another (see Louw-Nida).
Christians are not members of the same club, we’re members of the same family. Christians should have a love for one another as brothers and sisters.
Yes, we may have squabbles and fights in families, but when the rubber meets the road, we love one another deeply.
We will seek to be kind to one another. In fact, we will be people who are…“in honour preferring one another;”
The word “honour” means to show respect to other. It’s to place a high value on another person.
Have you ever been in a door-entry-deadlock situation? Where you and another person wrestle over who should go in first? “After you.” “No, you first.” “Age before beauty.” “Alright, thanks.” You are trying to show respect and honor to them.
If our love for others is genuine, we will go out of our way to respect and build others up. We will want to esteem and encourage them.
Now, I know that our culture has a unhealthy fascination with self-esteem. Every problem someone has seems to do with low self-esteem. Why does Fred steal things? Because he has low self-esteem. No, Fred has a sinful nature.
But Christians can have an overreaction to our culture’s overuse of self-esteem and neglect to build one another up. As a result, some Christians feel lonely and useless.
All of us need a kind word, a pat on the back, a word of encouragement, from time to time. It’s hard being a Christian in this world today, when culture values Christians less and less.
It’s even harder when it feels like fellow Christians—those who are your brothers and sisters in the family of Christ—don’t value you.
Genuine love will be a kind and considerate love. Genuine love also has…
A BOILING BUSYNESS TO SERVE THE LORD AND OTHERS
Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
11 τῇ σπουδῇ μὴ ὀκνηροί· τῷ πνεύματι ζέοντες· τῷ Κυρίῳ δουλεύοντες·
The idea in this verse is service. These three clauses can be all linked together under the idea of a serving love.
1) “Not slothful in business”—The “business” (σπουδή, NDSF) here doesn’t have to do with running a business. It has to with being diligent. In fact, you could almost read it as “busy-ness.”
We ought to busy, not slothful, in our Christian duties. Genuine love for others will find itself busy in service to others.
2) The next clause builds on that idea—we are to be “fervent in spirit”— This word comes from a word meaning “cook or boil.” Be fervent in spirit, especially when it comes to genuine love for one another.
But this boiling busyness has to have the right focus or burnout comes. As we, in genuine love, serve others, we are to be…
3) “serving the Lord”—We are to be serving the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our fervent fire of spirit must not be something that is misdirected or self-centered, as in, “Look at me, I am on fire for serving other people.” Instead, our boiling busyness must be directed at serving the Lord, not our ego.
At a playground we visited once, Tami and I saw a massive stone monument—an angled eight foot table that was waist high. On this stone table were three large bronze plaques.
The plaques told the story of how they labored in rain and hundred degree heat for many days to build the playground. It listed all the helpers and donors. Our thought was that they could have paid for a lot of playground equipment with the monument!
Their great service for the kids was really a service for themselves. When Christians serve others, we will be careful (without being falsely humble) that we are serving the Lord and not ourselves and our egos.
A Christian who shows genuine love toward others is also a person who has…
A PATIENT, PRAYERFUL HOPE FOR OTHERS
Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
12 τῇ ἐλπίδι χαίροντες· τῇ θλίψει ὑπομένοντες· τῇ προσευχῇ προσκαρτεροῦντες·
Again, there’s a series of three clauses that you could look at separately, but they also all fall under the idea of explaining what genuine love looks like.
1) “Rejoicing in hope”—The idea here is that hope, real hope, will make us able to rejoice. Hope makes us joyful.
What is hope? In the Bible, hope has to do with something that God has promised but that we haven’t received yet. It’s a confidence that God will do exactly what He has promised.
When we have biblical hope, we say about the Lord what the Psalmist said about the Lord in Psalm 119:68—“Thou art good, and doest good.”
Just think how that confident hope can carry over into our relationships—in how we show love for one another.
We can know, for example, that a brother or sister who is difficult for us to love is, in fact, loved by the Lord and He will take steps to grow them in Christ (whether or not He uses us to help them in that process is another question).
But we can have hope for them, not because of any ability or intelligence they have, not because we think that, deep down, they are a good kid.
We can have hope for them because God is a good God who does good. In fact, we can rejoice in that hope.
2) “patient in tribulation”—It’s because we can rejoice in hope that we can also be patient—able to endure—tribulations.
Tribulation, whether it is calamity or conflict, disease or death, is a normal part of life for everyone. One area where we face the most tribulation it seems is the area of relationships.
Genuine love is going to be patient through the trying times with other people, whether it’s a parent with a rebel-prone teenager or a boss with a difficult employee (yes, sometimes it’s not the boss who is so difficult!).
3) “continuing instant in prayer”—A good sign that you have a real relationship with God is your prayer life. A Christian is going to be a prayerful person.
You won’t just pray for a time in your prayer closet, you will be “continuing instant [constantly] in prayer” for others, especially your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Paul said at the beginning of Romans (like he did with most of his letters that he wrote):
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; (Romans 1:9).
When you hear of troubles with other people, you won’t wait to pray, your heart will be lifting them up to the Lord, even as you are on the phone listening to them cry.
When you put hope, patience, and prayer all together, you find that you have a recipe for loving difficult people in your life.
One thing to consider is that difficult brother or sister has God’s Spirit working in them. He will be growing fruit in their lives, somewhere, somehow:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance….(Galatians 5:22–23).
We can look for the good things that God is doing in a person’s life, instead of always dwelling on the bad things.
I’ve finally been around enough years to know that is true. I’ve seen, over time, God work to change people.
Having a genuine love means that I can have hope that God is working in difficult people. I can be patient as I wait through trying times with them. I can pray constantly for them.
Finally, genuine love has…
A CONCERN FOR THE NEEDS OF OTHERS
Romans 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
13 ταῖς χρείαις τῶν ἁγίων κοινωνοῦντες· τὴν φιλοξενίαν διώκοντες.
“Distributing to the necessity of saints;”—This is an obvious evidence of true love for others, isn’t it? Are you willing to give your time, treasure, and talent to help others in need?
Jesus taught the importance of being willing to give of ourselves with the parable of the Good Samaritan. You will remember that a man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was jumped by thieves. They stole his clothes and left him nearly dead.
A priest and a Levite both passed by, but avoided the man. Then a Samaritan came along—and remember that Samaritans and Jews didn’t even like one another, much less love one another—stopped to help the man.
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. (Luke 10:34–35).
Are we good Samaritans, not just to strangers, but to one another? Genuine love will be a good Samaritan. We will look out for the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of one another.
Another way of saying this is that we will be “given to hospitality.”
Hospitality is opening your home and your life to helping others.
Peter reminds us to show “hospitality one to another without grudging” (1 Peter 4:9). Christians should all have homes that are worn out with the traffic of their brothers and sisters in Christ.
But in a larger sense, believers will invite other believers not just into their homes, but into their very lives. This will be another mark and manifestation of their genuine love for one another.
Is your love for one another genuine? Do you find yourself pretending to love others, brothers and sisters in Christ?
Where does that genuine love come from? It starts with God. It starts with Christ.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
God’s holiness demands that our sins be punished, which would mean that we should perish in everlasting Hell.
God’s love, however, provided a way of escape. He sent His Son to bear the punishment for our sins.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation [the appeasement of God’s wrath] for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
We, however, are not automatically saved. We have to respond by believing in Jesus.
True belief will include believing the facts about Jesus—that He, God’s Son, died for our sins and rose again from the grave.
True belief will have a personal conviction about those facts. You will realize that you are a sinner deserving everlasting punishment in Hell and that Christ died for you.
True belief will have a commitment of your will in Jesus Christ to save you. You will put all your eggs in one basket.
Do you believe in Jesus? Do you love Him because He first loved you (1 John 4:19)?
If you do, that should change how you view others, both unbelievers and especially your brothers and sisters in Christ. God’s Spirit will be working to produce fruit in your life. The first fruit of the Spirit will be love.
Jesus’s commandment to us is also a commandment of love—
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34–35)
His love for you is genuine, is your love for Him, and for others also genuine?