Sermon August 29, 2004 : Romans 12 (Part 5)

Posted in Sermons
  • Presenter: Dr. Roberto Miranda | Translator: Dr. Roberto Miranda
  • Length: 28:29
  • Date: August 29, 2004
  • Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA

We are going to continue on verse 9, that’s where we stopped last time if I’m not mistaken. Let’s pick up from there. We are preaching a series of sermons that I have called “horizontal sermons”. We call them horizontal sermons because they not only allude to those things that are related to obvious things of the spirit, such as healing or supernatural manifestations, or displays of God’s power and so on and so forth, but really they refer to things of this earth, relationships, attitudes, character, things that we Christians, so often stumble upon, that are so necessary for a Godly blessed life. We’ve been reading the first 8 verses of Romans, chapter 12, deriving our meditation from these verses. We will continue this today.

Let’s go to verse 9, Romans, 12. “Let love be without pretensions. Hate what is evil and follow that is good. Love each other with a fraternal, with affectionate love. As far as honor is concerned, express preference one for the other, or give preference to each other. In what requires diligence, do not be sluggish; be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord, be joyous in hope and be long suffering when you find yourself in tribulation, be constant in prayer, sharing in the needs of all the saints and practicing hospitality.”

In the previous verses, particularly beginning with verse 6 on to verse 8, we spent time speaking about the life of Christian service and how we can properly serve the Lord. This second part that I just read, doesn’t deal so obviously with the life of service, with the practical life of the believer, as much as with the attitudes that we should have one for another. The way we should relate to each other, the kind of feelings that we should express to each other, and the way that we should carry out the collective Christian life, so I would put the emphasis here on attitude, as opposed to the previous section which is service.

We must not forget nevertheless, that even as Paul speaks about how to serve properly, he speaks that we must do so in humility, with a soberness that allows us to see ourselves as we truly are, without thinking of ourselves more positively than we have a right to and to serve in a spirit of understanding that we serve in a body, that we are inserted, our life of service is inserted in a community and that as we serve we must always be aware of the others and what our impact is in our life of service. In verses 6 to 8 there is a kind of a tone that the Apostle Paul establishes, and when we continue reading, and I don’t know what the English translation suggests, but in the Spanish, it’s almost like there’s a change of tone and of the style, and the style turns a lot more extended, less compact and more elegant in a sense.

In the first two verses everything is very parallel and very sort of compact. It says in verses 6 and 7: “if you have a gift of prophesy use it according to faith; if of service, in serving; if of teaching, in teaching; if of exhortation, in exhorting; if in sharing, do it with freedom; in presiding, with zeal; and in doing mercy, with joy”. But then in the second part, verses 9 on, there seems to be a change, it’s more like declarative, if you will, in style. “Don’t let love be without pretensions, hate what is evil, seek what is good. Love each other with fraternal love, as far as honor is concerned, giving preference one to the other.” So it turns into a different, it’s almost like a counsel. But you know what? This is the virtue of going back to the original languages, because you can see that in the mind of the Apostle there hasn’t been a change. He is still very concerned about this way of carrying out the Christian life, which is very spontaneous, he’s still very much in giving these almost commands, this pity, compact commands.

In the Greek there is no transition, really, everything remains the same way. I took the liberty of sort of retranslating in the light of what I was able to read in the Greek original, and I give my own version, this is the Lion of Juda’s version of the Bible that I’m going to read. In the Greek original, there’s the same sense of compactness, of directness, of dynamism in the way that the Apostle sees these attitudes that we are supposed to cultivate, so it’s more like: “… in love, without hypocrisy; abhorring what is evil, clinging to what is good; in fraternal love, expressing affection; as far as honor is concerned, putting each other before each other; as far as diligence, not being sluggish; as far as the spirit, fervent; when the opportunity arises, serving; in hope, rejoicing; in tribulation, standing firm; in prayer, constant; in the needs of the saints, sharing; in hospitality, practicing it.”

See it’s that sense, the Apostle Paul hasn’t abandoned his style, he’s continuing on with that idea of this obligatory, this direct way, this commanding way of carrying out the Christian life and the relationships that we have one with the other. You know God calls us to live up our relationships in a certain way, in a certain style and we are expected to obey, we are expected to carry out God’s directions. We should not indulge in excuses and sort of calling things by other names. God expects us to obey and to carry our relationships in a certain way, and if we do not treat others they way that God expects, we are under condemnation, we are under judgment, our life is in disadvantage.

We have no alternative, we have to treat each other the way that God says. In this is wonderful, the first thing, the first command, so to speak, in this compact sort of way, is “Let love be without pretensions”.

It says: Congregation, brethren in the faith, when you express love toward each other, agape, in the word that the Apostle used is agape. Let your love be without any kind of pretension, guile, manipulation, so fathers and mothers, parents love your children without hypocrisy. Husbands and wives love each other without hypocrisy. Brethren in the faith, love each other without hypocrisy . It is so important to dwell a moment on that because love being the highest of human affections, particularly the way the Apostle expresses with agape, agape for the Greeks was the utmost manifestation of love, there’s erotic love, there’s brotherly love, there’s love for the nation, there’s love of a parent for a child, but there’s a love which is beyond all loves, that is the way that God loves, it’s pure love. It’s almost inhuman love, which only through the grace of God we’re able to manifest toward each other. That love can be contaminated sometimes, like a wonderful diamond with a flaw in it, sometimes our love can be contaminated with baser emotions and the Bible says, let us purify our love. Our love is like gold that is mixed with other baser metals and the fire of God must come into our lives and purify that love, extract the impurities so that the gold of our love can be as pure and as God honoring as possible. When we enter into de kingdom of God a whole process of purification is unleashed and the experiences that God allows to come into our lives, I believe are designed to purify our love, to extract from it all the impurities and make our love more and more like the love of Jesus Christ.

Before in a previous meditation, the Apostle Paul says that when we share let us do so with simplicity, that’s on verse 8 and that meant that the word simplicity in the Greek original is aplotes, which means when you give, give freely without ulterior motives, without a secret agenda, just give without expecting anything in return, give without making the receiver feel indebted to you, without feeling cheapened by the fact that you, in a superior manner have deigned to give him or her something. Give with simplicity. Give without any ulterior motives.

Now, here the Apostle Paul is carrying that same line of thought and saying let your love be without any dark element in it, with any dark streak of manipulation, or of self interest, or of secret expectations, or of leading the object of your love to secretly give you something back. You know sometimes people marry because they’re expecting something in return, he marries her because he wants her to cook for him and take care of the children, be a good housewife and support him in his crisis, and she marries him because she sees dollar signs in front of him, he’s a good provider, he brings home the bacon, he has shown that he’s a good earner so therefore he will ensure that I lead a good, secure life. That is not the way that love should be, love should be an expression of desire to bless someone, out of devoid, of a vacuum of desire to share a life with someone else, and to bless them because you need to be with that person, because you feel that there’s some inherent affinity with that person, it should be the void of all those baser interests. We should not love with secret motives, with ulterior motives, manipulating each other, expecting things from the other person, oppressing the person with our ego and our needs and our requirements of self affirmation.

The Bible speaks of the love of God which is so great that when we were sunk in our sinfulness then God in his agape love sent his son Jesus Christ. When we were unlovable, God loved us, out of just the vacuum of his love. His love was seated on himself, that doesn’t need to love, yet God is eminently loving, and this is the way we should love. Devoid of all the paraphernalia that we, humans, attach to love …. that make love sound cheap, when it exercises itself in the human ground. God says: Let our love be pure. This is the love that God calls for each of us.

Love the one who’s yellow, or black or red, he’s different from you, but still love him. Don’t love him because he is like you, love him because he’s different from you. When you invite someone to your house, don’t invite him because he can give something back to you, because he’ll bring a box of chocolates, or good conversation with him, or fancy suit and a look, invite them because they’re your brother or your sister and you want to honor them and you want to bless them, and you want to share the love of Christ with somebody else. That’s how we should love each other.

Let’s ask the Lord, Father purify my love. Let’s just lower our heads right now, let’s just take a moment to ask the Lord to purify our love. I’m going to show my love by being brief this morning, I’m going to leave it right there. Let’s not mix too many concepts this morning. Let’s just humble ourselves in front the Lord. Let’s ask the Lord to teach us how to love.

I repent of all the impurities of my love, manifests for my wife, my children, my church. I ask the Lord, Lord let me love simply because your divinity is manifested in the life of each person that I encounter. That is the compelling element of love. That should be the only consideration. Let us ask the Lord to purify our love. Help us to love the way Jesus loved. God purify my love. Forgive for all the times that my love has a tint of egotism and anger or I use words that are wounding for the people that I love and how I always expect to somehow be rewarded for my love or I love those who give something to me that appeals to me, or that flatters my ego. We repent of all the different things that we allow to enter into our life of love with each other. Let us be like Jesus Christ.

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