The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz. Click here: Romans 12:10-12, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Romans 12:10-12, for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.

Romans 12:10-12, Evidence Two – Fulfilling Practical Duties within the Christian Family:
• So we’re in Romans 12 dealing with the evidences of a faithful believer. And the reason we’re looking at this, is for your benefit as individuals, but also as a church family. That’s where the circle analogy comes in. It starts with you, as you fulfil your personal duties to those around you.
• We started with 3 personal duties; to love without any pretence, to hate any and all evil – that which is sinful, and finally, to become fused with all that is good.

• But the circle has to widen, and we need to embrace our Christian family. So our text reveals 4 practical duties of a faithful believer that reaches the needs of our church family.

  1. Love One Another:
    • Text – v10a
    • Explanation – I love the Greek here. It’s a combination of two words, both meaning love, and it could be translated; “Be lovingly loving.” That is a warm affectionate love. It is a natural family love. This is not a love that is induced by desire, or by beauty or an attractive personality but the natural love that occurs within a family.
    • So it is not stirred by attraction, personality, lust, desire, or even circumstances. It is simple a normal family love. So as the circle expands from personal duties to some practical duties, we ought to have a family type love for one another.

• Illustration – Now I’m sure this is a type of love you experienced when you were drawn in by CBC after your first visit. Did you feel a sense of welcome? Were you drawn in by the fellowship of believers? That’s the natural family love.
• That is the affectionate demonstrative kind of love. It is a love that is given to anyone who belongs to the Lord. It is instinct for the believer. This is what 1 John 5:1-2 talks about.
• “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.”

• Application – So it natural for the believer, however, it is an area where we must continually grow. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 says, “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more…”
• Conclusion – So you are taught by God to love in this way, but Paul says we need to do this more and more. We cannot think we have loved each other enough. If we come to that point, we’ve stopped loving.

• Bridge – But there is a second duty in verse 10, which challenges to the next step. Love is the general environment, but without it, the next duty will never happen, and that is to…

  1. Outdo One Another:
    • Text – v10b
    • Explanation – This text could literally say; “As far as honor is concerned, let each one esteem the other more highly.” So there is no pushing for first place. There shouldn’t be any waiting around to be served. At the same time, we must bear in mind that Paul has just condemned love that is hypocritical. So we shouldn’t fake the experience. Paul is not advocating hypocrisy but humility.
    • Illustration – So how does this look? Well, if we are to love everyone the same, Philippians 2:1-4 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

• Application – We must prefer others. Which actually means to go before, to lead the way. So we need to lead the way in putting others before us. We’re not to wait till someone else shows honour to whom honour is due, or love to whom love is due.
• Conclusion – We’re to be the first to do that. We’re not waiting to serve, but leading the way in honouring others. It also means to be quick to give honour, or quick love, even quick to meet a need. And that takes so much humility.

• Bridge – But that is the mark of a believer, we lead the way bringing honour to others in meeting their needs. That’s why the next one is personal, but affects the Christian family.

  1. Serve the Lord:
    • Text – v11
    • Explanation – The King James says, “Not slothful in business.” But it tells us to “not be lazy in zeal.” The word isn’t business, it literally means to hurry, or haste. So I can appreciate the KJV as we have the King’s business to do. And we cannot be laid back about it.
    • To put it another way, Galatians 6:9, “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” This tells us there has to be intensity in our service.

• Illustration – The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Be not slothful” (Hebrews 6:12). The sad reality is that we fall more on the side of sloth, than wear out. That’s the South African way! You can go to any retail store, and man – there in almost never anyone quick to help you. It is really so frustrating.
• There is the sense we do things just to get them done. But you know, this verse doesn’t tell us to constantly be doing new things. This refers to your role in the church, at home, and in the work place. You may have become slothful because everything feels so routine.

• Application – But the cure to overcoming slothfulness is sticking to it. Keep moving forward, keep doing it. Keep fulfilling your responsibilities. Paul puts it this way, be fervent in Spirit! The word “Fervent” means to boil with heat. And what it says is “Be a boiling point believer.”
• Friends, the Christian life should be filled enthusiasm, with passion, and with joy. As I think of this verse, I’m reminded of Robert Murray McCheyne. He was a Scottish minister in the 19th century. He worked so hard, in his study – and in ministering to the church. In fact, he worked so hard, that his health gave in. And before dying at age 29 he wrote, “God gave me a message to deliver and a horse to ride. Alas, I have killed the horse and now I cannot deliver the message.”

• Conclusion – Perhaps McCheyne was too far on the other side of the scale, however, he was never slothful – but constantly served the Lord with fervency. The week before his death, he preached on the Sunday, did a wedding on Tuesday, and did his children’s ministry. You know what stopped him? His death bed.
• Bridge – Now please don’t go from here – serving in such a way that it kills you, because then you’ll be disobeying God in other areas. Paul says, serve the Lord. We are called to serve the Lord and to serve Him with haste, to serve Him with zeal, and to serve Him with a fervent spirit. Which brings us to our final point…

  1. Trust in the Lord:
    • Text – v12
    • Explanation – Here Paul give us three encouragements to remain faithful, individually, and as a family. And he starts with Hope. What is hope? Perhaps I can say that it is the mark of Christians. And therefore we rejoice in it, and in what it guarantees.
    • Romans 8:23-24 give clarity, “we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

• This doesn’t mean we go about the Christian walk with a smile. The early Christians often had little to be joyful about. Yet, they rejoiced in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4). Hope itself is not the object of our joy, hope leads us to rejoicing.
• Hope lifts you out of your present difficult circumstances, and rejoicing is the unavoidable result. Our hope is in the Lord, who will return for His own, and in our faithful service to Him, we’ll hear Him say – ‘well done, good and faithful servant!’

• Illustration – This is why Paul lists it before our second encouragement. He says to ‘be patient in tribulation.’ Patient may give a wrong impression; as I’ve heard many believers express – ‘this too shall pass…’ and they kind of wait for their trouble to just pass, not actively doing anything about.
• Paul is not saying wait around, and passively put up with these things. He says to actively endure it. Go back to Romans 5:3-5, “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

• Application – Paul isn’t dismissing his sufferings, he is actively enduring his troubles and trials. But how do we do that? Paul lists a third encouragement; ‘be constant in prayer.’ See, in the good times and bad, we need to learn to have fellowship with God. Sadly, many of have only start praying when we’re already knee deep in our troubles.
• There’s a story of two orphans who were in a country experiencing a war. They were praying to get out of this situation and eventually they fled to a neighbouring country, thinking they made it to the good guys. However, they made it to Muslim territory.

• And so these kids didn’t make, they were killed for their Christian faith. They had a testimony that couldn’t be hidden, callouses on their knees from all the praying. The callouses on their knees could be clearly seen, and the Muslims knew they were Christian, for they prayed so much.
• Faithful in prayer is twofold; first, it refers to our consistency with which we are to pray, and second, the effort that is need to maintain this habit. 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “pray without ceasing.” Friends, persistent prayer is a necessary part of the Christian life.

• Conclusion – So we’ve learned a lot today. We have learned what it means to love one another faithfully, and what it looks like to outdo one another is service. And it is with service that does not hold back, it is boiling point service for the Lord. It is by serving with the hope of better things. The hope that our work will one day end, and so will our suffering. And that’s the way to live the Christian life.