Text: Romans 12:9-10 Date: 5/6/2018
Main Point: Genuine loves hates evil and holds fast to good.
Growing up, one of the things you didn’t want to be was a poser. If you were a little more country, you didn’t want to be a K-mart cowboy. A poser was often someone who has trying to look like a skater but didn’t skate. A K-mart cowboy was a person trying to look like a cowboy but couldn’t milk a cow, ride a horse, a haul hay. There is a well established rule that we should be genuine. Skaters skate. Cowboys work cows. Christians love. Writing in Romans 12:9, the Apostle Paul tells us to let love be genuine. Don’t be a hypocrite or a poser; love the church like family. Be affectionate toward one another with purity. Hate the evil within and cling to the good we see. The call to us today is to love one another with a genuine love that hates evil and holds fast to the good.
Read Romans 12:9-21
With his usual clarity, John Stott summarizes these verses. “Without doubt agapē-love now dominates the scene. So far in Romans all references to agapē have been to the love of God—demonstrated on the cross (5:8), poured into our hearts (5:5) and doggedly refusing to let us go (8:35, 39). But now Paul focuses on agapē as the essence of Christian discipleship. Romans 12–15 are a sustained exhortation to let love govern and shape all our relationships. Soon Paul will write about love for our enemies (12:17–21), but first he portrays it pervading the Christian community (12:9–16). This is clear from his use of the words ‘one another’ (three times in verses 10 and 16), ‘brotherly love’ (10) and ‘God’s people’ (13).
The apostle Paul has been teaching about spiritual gifts. As you consider your gift and this church, remember this,
I. Love is absolutely necessary
Now, there is a world of difference between saying, “love is absolutely necessary” and “all we need is love.” The popular pleasure driven idea of “all we need is love” says it doesn’t matter if we can pay the bills or buy groceries, we are just going to hold hands and stare into one another’s eyes. The biblical Spirit-and-truth driven idea of love says doing good to one another requires love. The spiritual gifts are not enough. We must use our gifts for the good of one another and with a whole lot of love.
Here is the requirement for each member
- Every member must put on love (Col 3:14)
Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be genuine.” Let love be without hypocrisy. Hypocritical or ingenuine love is made evident in Judas who betrayed Jesus with a kiss in order to gain 30 pieces of silver. We make a spectacle of the church when we love it because it provides a platform for our gifts. I love you because I get to preach to you. I love you because I get to sing to you. I love you because I get to teach you. I love you because I get to serve you, lead you, or encourage you. This is hypocrisy! When we live this way we don’t love the church, we only love our gifts.
Let love be genuine. Choose, by faith, to put on love. Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Each worship gathering is a family reunion where we renew our love for one another by actively serving and building one another up. This love is radical, sacrificial, and not of this world. So where does it come from? Where do we get this love? Romans 5:5, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Our experience of the redeeming love of God is the product of the Holy Spirit in us. Our ability to love the people of God is the product of the Holy Spirit in us. So, one of the most helpful things you can do before getting out of the car each Sunday is stop and pray, “Holy Spirit, help me love these people well today.”
I confess, you cannot love me well on your own. I will give you reasons to despise me. Don’t fake it. Pray for the Spirit to cause the love of God to overflow through you to me. I cannot love you well on my own. You will give me reasons to despise you. I must not fake it. I pray the Spirit causes the love of God to overflow through me to you. What is the requirement for each member? Every member must put on love and
- To love is to hate
Just as our culture thinks “all we need is love,” so also our culture thinks if you love someone you have to totally support everything that person is doing. I’m trying to work it into my thick skull: often in our community, to speak any word of disagreement, much less to bring a correction, is often interpreted as hate. The coworker, neighbor, or family member that you disagree with, likely thinks you hate him. The coworker, neighbor, or family member that seeks your support will likely think you hate her if you don’t give it. We Christians are called by God to show our neighbors a better way
- Genuine love necessarily hates evil
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Again, listen to John Stott, “Love is discerning. It is so passionately devoted to the beloved object that it hates every evil which is incompatible with his or her highest welfare” (330).
To hate is to be repulsed or disgusted by something. The word occurs only here in the New Testament. It’s a compound word that means hate that is amplified. We are to experience ramped up hatred toward what is evil.
The question that lies before us is, what is evil? What should we be repulsed by? Should we conform to the world’s standards of what is disgusting? No, do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. As we test our loves and hates by the word of God we will be able to figure out what is good, acceptable, and perfect. So, God defines for us what is evil. Our fallen instinct is to define good and evil for ourselves.
Let’s apply this biblical command and try to keep it simple, let’s use the 10 commandments as the standard for evil. We must be repulsed by the worship of anything other than God. We should abhor idols. We should hate the misuse, the degrading of God’s name. We should be repulsed by Sabbath-breaking. We should abhor the disrespect of parents. We should hate murder. We should be repulsed by adultery. We should abhor stealing. We should hate lying. We should be repulsed by envy and coveting.
These evils drag us away from life and joy in God. These evils will kill us, steal from us, and destroy us. May we hate such awful masters.
Now, think for a moment about the music, movies, and games you enjoy. Do these choices help you hate evil and support the good? Church, do not be conformed to this world but be transformed, be like Jesus, by renewing your minds. Test these things. Are these songs, these shows, and these games in agreement with the good, pleasing, and acceptable will of God? Are you conforming to the world or being transformed into the image of Christ?
I’m not encouraging you to be a prude. Romans 14:17, “ the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Instead of being prudes, I want you to think of your love like a fire. Putting God’s good things on the fire of your love will fuel the fire. Putting the world’s evil things on the fire of your love is like putting water on the fire. Our goal is not to simply avoid the bad. Our goal is to love and cling to the good. In order for love to be genuine you must hate evil and hold fast to good.
- Genuine love hates evil and holds fast to the good
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good
Too many of us stop at “abhor what is evil.” We just walk around hating all the time. That’s wrong. That’s sin. That’s evil. That’s repulsive. That’s disgusting. That’s being lopsided. Don’t be lopsided. Our hatred of evil must be matched by our support of the good. We must hold fast to the good. Holding fast is what a husband does when he leaves his father and mother and holds fast to his wife (Mt 19:5). Clinging is what a person does who joins a church (Acts 5:13). Holding fast is what that sticky red clay does to your shoes after it rains. The dust clings to our feet (Luke 10:11).
Love latches on to, holds fast to, and clings to the good. Again, where do you get your definition of the good? Does your definition of good agree with the world or with the Word?
What does the Word say is good? God is good (Mt 19:17). The law is good (Rom 7:12). The will of God is good (Rom 12:2). In fact, the letter to the Romans was written so that we would be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil (Rom 16:19). Church, we are not given the liberty to choose one side of the coin. It’s not enough to simply cling to the good. It is not enough to simply abhor what is evil. We must combine love for the good with hatred for the evil. This is genuine love.
And this love is often incomprehensible to the world. To love your child by hating the evil and clinging to the good appears destructive, condemnatory, judgmental, even abusive. To be fair, often the world thinks what we are doing is destructive, condemnatory, judgmental, and abusive because it is destructive, condemnatory, judgmental, and abusive. We are shouting about evil when we should be teaching our children to turn away from evil. We are affirming the good in our confessions and with our words but not actively joyfully and sacrificially seeking to build up the good.
The most loving thing you can do for me is to simultaneously and passionately hate the evil you see and support the good you see. The most loving thing I can do for you is to simultaneously and passionately hate the evil I see and support the good I see. Let’s talk now about
II. How to be a helpful member of the body
So here you are, you have this gift and the rest of us have gifts. What should we do about it? Look at verse 10, “Love one another with brotherly affection.”
- Love these people like family
It is important to note that there is a whole lot of affection going on in this phrase. Mom and dad, your PDA meter should be should be reading level orange here. KJV says, “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love.” Kindly means, of the same kind, it’s the base for kinfolk or just your kin. God wants his children to treat one another like family; with the affection of kinfolk. Affection should be pulsing through the body; the holy affection of a father for his child or a mother for her child. There should be parent-child love in the body, but that doesn’t go far enough. You should add brotherly love to the parent-child love. Love one another with brotherly love, with philadephia. This phila root is important for the application of the gospel in the end of Romans. Love one another in verse 10 starts with phila. Brotherly love starts with phila in verse 10. Show hospitality in 12:13 is another phila word. Greet one another with a holy kiss in 16:16: kiss is another phila word.
The most helpful thing you can do is love these people. Here is a very practical and simple way to love better. Email Lynn your picture or get him to take your picture for the directory. Then, using a paper directory or the app, pray for 2-3 members a day. Read their names before you do your Bible reading and whatever comes up that would be appropriate, pray it. Grow in love by praying for your brothers and sisters.
Here’s something else you can do
- Make room for others
Romans 12:10 says, “Outdo one another in showing honor” or, “in honor give preference to one another.” We’ve been memorizing Philippians 2 and verse 3 says, “do nothing from rivalry or conceit but in humility consider others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3, we should be counting others as more important or thinking about others as more significant. This does not look like Eeyore moping around with nothing to offer. Everyone’s better than me. I have the worst gift. I’m the biggest loser. That is not right. Instead, it looks like every member making room for the sprouting gifts of others. The best prophet should be encouraging other prophets. The best server should be encouraging others to serve. The best teacher should encourage others to teach. The person with the gift of exhortation should be exhorting others to exhort. The person with the gift of generosity should let others pay. Show honor to others by making room for their gifts.
We also show honor by being grateful for every gift no matter it’s size. Person A is more gifted at leading than Person B. Show honor to Person B when he leads. Person A is more gifted to show mercy than Person B. Show honor when Person B shows up and gives you mercy. We are in danger of making the church a body that only honors the highest level of giftedness. Instead, make room for others. In honor show preference to one another. Seek to outdo one another in building up your brothers and sisters so that they use their gifts.
Our first simple step was pray for 2-3 members every day. Here is our second simple step.
- Learn how to constantly say, “Thank you.”
The most basic way we hold fast to the good we see in others is by saying, “Thank you.” Now, even a broken clock is right twice a day! Thank the clock for those two minutes. Despise the other 1,438 minutes but celebrate and honor the two that are right. We see this in the Apostle Paul as he honors the broken clock that is the church at Corinth. Look at this church, what are the two minutes we are getting right? Look at your neighbors and coworkers, what are the two minutes that they are getting right? Look at your spouse and children, what the two minutes they are getting right? Learn to say, “Thank you” for the smallest of things.
Romans 12:10 says, “Outdo one another in showing honor.” Think about one another according to honor. In honor, give preference to one another. Hate the evil in your brothers and sisters while humbly showing them honor for the good. We desperately need the Holy Spirit so we can love like this. None of us is this smart, this spiritual, this loving, or wise. We need the Spirit. Pray for the Holy Spirit to increase your love.
Let’s close like this. How is your love? Is your love genuine or is it hypocritical? Do you love this church, these members, because you can build them up or do you exploit this church because it builds you up? Repent of hypocrisy and by faith put on love.
How is your hatred for evil? Do you have a category, a biblical understanding of what it looks like to hate evil? Is your hatred for evil matched by support for the good?
When you think of this gathering do you roll your eyes or do you engage your heart? If you are struggling to love people who aren’t like you then pray for God to pour more of his love into your heart by the Holy Spirit. Confess your lack of love and pray for God’s help to love. Then look for ways to show honor. Make room for others. Encourage others to put their gifts to work. And say thank you.
I’m calling an audible on our last hymn. I want us to express our gratitude to God and to one another. I want us to sing “The Family of God.” The words are simple. I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God. I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood! Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod; For I’m part of the family, the family of God.” If you want to join this family, if you want to become a member of this church, come forward and let’s talk. Let’s stand and sing together.
 Stott, John. The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series) (p. 330).