The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz. Click here: Romans 12:13-15, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Romans 12:13-15, for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.
Romans 12:13-15, Evidence Three – Faithfully Sharing with Others:
- We’re back in Romans 12 dealing with the evidences of a faithful believer. Now to remind you, the reason we’re looking at this, is for your benefit as individuals, but also as a church family. The focus is on how you can be effectively serving to the glory of God.
- Think of it as a little circle that has to expand. It starts with you! You are in the middle of the circle, but the circle has to expand as you reach out to those around you, as you fulfil your personal duties and practical 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.
- And we widened the circle by focusing on how we can practically serve the Christian family. What we found was that we must love one another, better put – to be lovingly loving. Additionally, reaching to the needs of the family is through showing honour to each – meaning to be the first to serve and not be served.
- And then part of faithfully serving one another comes from a faithfulness to serving the Lord firstly. And finally, none of this service would be done if we didn’t trust or depend on the Lord alone. So these are areas we need to be growing in.
- Therefore, continuing with today’s theme, we’ll study 4 ways we can faithfully share our concerns, blessings, and love, with our church family and those around us as faithful believers.
1. Share to Fulfil Needs:
- Text – v13a
- Explanation – I can start by firstly saying; the world is fixed on getting, and Christians are fixed on giving. Now Paul reminds us that we need to be committed to giving to the needs of others. So the key word is contributing! Directly translated from the Greek it means; communion, sharing, partnership, and fellowship.
- What does that mean? That means I’m partners with other believers and if they have a need, we’re partners, meaning we share our resources.
- Illustration – Now this is not a guilt trip ticket to use next time you want to borrow something from someone and they say no. Don’t quote me on this. And I would agree that in a sense, that the little I do own, spiritually I don’t own them. I only manage them for the Lord. And in managing it, I reserve the right to who I lend them.
- And it is a Christian duty for us to do that. Acts 2 and 4 describes the early church believers were selling the things they had when someone had need, taking the money gained from the sale and giving it to the people who had the need.
- Application – We learn this in Hebrews 13:16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” James echoes this same truth, “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?”
- “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:14-17).
- Conclusion – John adds “But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 Jn 3:17). So you’ll notice two things when you obey this command.
- First, you will be aware of the actual pressing necessities of many saints around you. Second, you will become aware of how God supplies your own necessities as you minister to others needs. And I’m sure many of you can testify to this.
- Bridge – It is like when the Holy Spirit took complete possession of the early Church, Acts 2:44-45, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”
- So that’s the first way we faithfully meet the needs of our fellow brothers and sisters, by faithfully looking out for each other’s needs.
2. Share in Hospitality:
- Text – v13b
- Explanation – Literally “pursue the love of strangers.” Now over and over again the New Testament insists on this duty of the open door. Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
- 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8, an elder must be hospitable – a stranger lover. And then 1 Peter 4:9 steps it up a little by saying, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” And on that note, William Tyndale once said, a home can never be happy when it is selfish.
- Illustration – So pursue the love of strangers, not reluctantly, not saying, “Oh boy, someone is coming over again? Somebody else is going to eat here? We can’t keep this up.” No, pursue that hospitality. Share meals when you fellowship! And don’t be hindered by the presentation of your homes. If we had to wait for our homes to be perfect, our times of fellowship would be fewer.
- It is called scruffy-hospitality. See in the early church, there was great need to share with one another’s burdens, especially in the face of persecution. Now, with COVID-19, we’re in a bracket where we need to carry each other’s burdens by opening up our homes.
- Application – So allow me to get real about this, go back to 1 Peter 4:9. This verse reminds us that yes, it isn’t always going to be easy. Therefore, do it without grudging, be eager instead. Pursue it here, and as an elder, I am to be a lover of it.
- Conclusion – And this is what we are doing, look a 2 Timothy 1:16-7, Paul says, “The Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chain. And when he was in Rome he sought me out very diligently and found me.” That is what it is to do your Christian duty.
- Bridge – So our care and concern will demonstrate itself in practical deeds done for others, either going to them and distributing to their needs, or inviting them to come to you given to hospitality.
- So that’s the second way we faithfully sharing in the need of others, especially those around us.
3. Share Encouragement:
- Text – v14
- Explanation – Our verse talks about blessing and not cursing. The original word for ‘Bless’ is eulogeo from eu = good + lógos = word. So it means to speak good or well. When eulogeo is used by men toward men it means to speak well of with praise and thanksgiving. To say good or positive things. Eulogeo can be from man to God, from man to man, and from God to man.
- Illustration – In other words, the world is going to respond to goodness with goodness. If we as believers respond with love to those who hate us, and with goodness to those who do evil to us, we are showing off our difference. We are proving our faithfulness, and we are sharing encouragement.
- Application – So that’s essentially what is behind the thought of our verse. We are to respond by wishing the ones who come against us the best. Blessing them, desiring that God be good to them and gracious and mercy. That’s what Jesus did on the cross when he said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
- This is what Stephen did in Acts 7:60 as they were stoning him; “Lay not this sin to their charge.” Here’s the thing, the original language puts it, “Be constantly blessing those who are constantly persecuting you.“
- Conclusion – The command therefore is, that, so far from wishing or praying that evil may overtake our persecutors and enemies, we must sincerely desire and pray for their good. And the most powerful way this was put, was in Jesus’ own words according to Luke 6:27-28: “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.”
- That means you don’t go around badmouthing people who are not nice to you. You don’t run them down or speak harshly about them to others, but you speak well of them. You find something that you can approve, and you say that to others.
- Bridge – But that’s not our natural response, admit it. Have you ever been persecuted in traffic? It happens all the time. Somebody cuts you off, and you want to roll down the window… well, our verse doesn’t tell you what to call them, but it tells you to bless them, anyway.
- So that’s our third way of sharing. We share words of encouragement to those who wish to injure us. But there’s a final word.
4. Share in Joy & Sorrow:
- Text – v15
- Explanation – So this tells us to enjoy someone else’s joy. That is the absence of any jealousy. This is such an encouraging evidence of a faithful believer. The opposite of this is described by Proverbs 17:5, “…he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.”
- Yet, a true believer, regardless of how you may feel, is be able to rejoice with someone else. To be blessed in someone else’s joy. This is the fruit of the Spirit, joy. So we can say that the only way for a believer to give verbal expression of that joy is by being continually filled with the Spirit, and not act according to the desires of our flesh.
- Illustration – Furthermore, this truth is also stressed in 1 Corinthians 12:26, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.” And so it is specifically Christian to rejoice at someone else’s joy.
- Now, if this is hard for you to share sympathy for those who are happy, the next half might not be any easier. Paul says “Weep with them that weep.” Because the Greek form of this word translates “to shed tears.” Now some might argue and say it is easier to be sympathetic to the injured than to congratulate someone’s success. Here’s the deal though, our sympathy is limited.
- Our sympathy can be corrupted by sin. We may grow tired or bored from the same tears. We may even get annoyed with the weeping as they share their tears.
- Application – Yet as believers, we are to be marked as those who are sensitive to those around us. When someone has cause for rejoicing, we fully enter into and share their joy. Why? Because of our love for our fellow brothers & sisters. It isn’t that we laugh because we’re supposed to, it is that we’re truly Christian, and true Christians respect the blessing that comes to others.
- But we are also the ones who understand sorrow, and therefore, know what it is to share the tears of a friend. Warren Wiersbe said, Christian fellowship is much more than a pat on the back and a handshake. It means sharing the burdens and the blessings of others so that we all grow together and glorify the Lord. If Christians cannot get along with one another, how can they ever face their enemies?
- Conclusion – Therefore, take heart, a sorrow shared is but half a trouble. A joy that’s shared is a joy made double. So we have four ways a faithful believer shares in the life of others. First, it is to practical look out for one another’s practical and physical needs.
- Second, it is to love them through sharing your home, meaning we must be willing to open the door, not to entertain, but to care for those who are knocking.
- Bridge – Third, when we are pursued by someone who wants to do us harm, return that with blessing – with a good word. Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
- And finally, share in the joys and sorrows of your fellow brothers & sisters. Be true to their circumstances, and carry the load together.