Christian Playbook


Manage episode 345752500 series 3038820
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Audio Transcript:
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Heavenly Father, we thank you that you did not leave us in our sins and our trespasses, that you broke into this world through your son Jesus Christ. Jesus, we thank you that you lived a perfect life. You do live the life of suffering because the Christian life often entails suffering, and you went to a cross. And thanks to your resurrection, we have a way to be reconciled with God, redeemed, and we have a way to be renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit, you apply the gospel to our hearts, our minds, our souls, and we pray that you do that today. We know that the gospel is the power of God onto salvation for whoever believes, and I pray if anyone is not yet a Christian today, that they turn from their sin and wicked ways and turn to you and follow you.
And for us who are believers, Lord, show us what it means to daily take up our cross and follow Christ, that the crucifixion leads to a life of cruciform. The way of life is the way of the cross. Show us today from the holy scriptures what it means to live a Christian life of love. And Lord, no one, not one of us does it perfectly so we pray for much grace in it. We pray all this in Christ's name, Amen. Today we are continuing our sermon series through Romans. Today we're in 12:9-13. The title of the sermon is the Christian Wristband. And you say, "What's that mean?" Well, the title comes straight from football obviously, and in particular, New England Patriots' Mac Jones. I've been watching Mac Jones, he stinks. He's been stinking. He's been stinking, and one of the reasons why I've been trying to discern why he isn't that good, he's got like three layer wrist bands.
In football, the quarterback gets a little wristband that's like a cheat sheet and he gets the play, he needs layers of it. He's going through pages of his wristband. That's why he stinks. And here today is just one little wristband, that's the verses. This is like the cheat sheet for the Christian life. And the text today is that yes, sometimes you have to call an audible, but for the most part, these verses have everything you need to live a God honoring daily life. And here the text wrestles with the question how do we, who are committed to Christ, who have had our minds renewed, how are we to love and how are we to live? Specifically, how do we love those in the church? And then next week the text we'll be looking at, how do we love those outside of the church?
And throughout the epistle, the apostle Paul has given us lengthy, weighty concepts, and he's done that with very long sentences, run-on sentences. He would not have done well in my English AP class in 11th grade. He's just one sentence and that's the chapters. But here today he gives us staccato shots, rapid fire truths, terse, short, sweet, straight to the point, and I pray this text will be helpful in your Christian life. Today we're in Romans 12:9-13, and would you look at the text with me? Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil, hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit. Serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation. Be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. This is the reading of God's holy, inherent, infallible, authoritative word. May he write these eternal truths upon our hearts.
Five verses with 13 exhorts, so the sermon has 13 points today to frame up our time together, and it's just from the text. I'm not even going to read them. I just read the text, so that's the 13 points, here they are. Verse one in verse nine, the first point, let love be genuine. And this comes in the context where verses four through eight, he's been telling us about our spiritual gifts, that we are given gifts and the gifts are not for ourselves, they're to be used in the church in all humility. And then immediately from the gifts, he goes to the Christian life of love. And he does the same thing 1 Corinthians 12 where he explains the spiritual gift, and then immediately he pivots in verse 13, he's given us that great chapter on love. Remember, love is patient, love was kind, et cetera.
Here's a text, 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:1, be earnest but earnestly desire the higher gifts, and I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. Paul, why land on the word genuine as the descriptor of what our love should be like? He could have said, "Let love be great," or tremendous or earnest or joyful or constant or bold, I don't know. He says, "Let love be genuine," meaning let love be without hypocrisy. Well, I talk about hypocrisy here because the previous section he said, "Think humbly," meaning do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Humbly considering others more significant than self, that leads to self-forgetful service of Christ. That leads to genuine love, and genuine love takes humility. We talked about that last week.
And pride is what leads to hypocritical love, where you pretend to love. Why? Because you're always asking, "Well, how will I appear if I don't look loving?" That's the driving question, or, "How can I create a good impression of myself," or, "How can I be liked more?" That's the consuming desire. And Paul says, "No. Put away hypocrisy. If you're going to love, that love on the outside needs to be matched by love on the inside," because what is hypocrisy? It's you're masking your true self, where you put forward it looks like loving behavior but there's nothing alive inside. 1 Corinthians 13:3, if I give away all I have and if I deliver up my body to be burned but have not love, I gain nothing.
So to those who are adamant about saying love is a verb...that's me, I'm talking myself, I say that all the time, love is action, love is sacrifice, love of his giving... Paul would say you can give everything, but if you don't do it from a loving heart, it means nothing. And Jesus called out this kind of hypocrisy all the time, in particular with religious people. Matthew 15:7-9, "You hypocrites. Well did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said these people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." External lip praise wasn't accompanied by an internal heart praise, and we as Christians need to remind ourselves that we have been saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. And Christ calls us into his body, that's what we talked about last week, and another metaphor for that is the household of God.
That God the father has children whom he adopts, and we are to have a special regard or love for Christians regardless of what they look like or social or cultural things that try to divide us all too often. So we are to manifest a love that's genuine, that's sincere, that's authentic, and as soon as you try to do this, you realize it's impossible apart from the Lord, that you don't have the natural resources, the internal power to do this. So we need to cry out for the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:5 says, "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." So we're to love with a supernatural love that is not our own, it's God's love that's poured into our hearts.
How would you define love? And that's an interesting conversation for community group this week. It's interesting that the Bible does not define love. There's no Bible verse that says, "This is what love is." It illustrates love, for God so love the world that he gave his one and only son. Jesus Christ loves me because he gave himself for me. The Bible defines sin. Sin is lawlessness, but it never defines love partially because we as humans, we know what love is. It's affection and commitment, the acts for the good of another. And here Paul, he focuses on the affection part. We're all too familiar with counterfeit love, love that doesn't act. We're all also familiar with a superficial love that doesn't sacrifice. But here he focused on hey, there should be a genuine affection, and he uses the word agape.
Let love agape be genuine. It's the love of God. It's a Godlike, Christlike, sacrificial love. And this word has been used speaking about God up until this text, except with one exception in Romans 8:28 where it's used for our love for Christ, but does God feel affection toward us? Well, of course. Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. That's the sacrifice, that's the act, but before going Jerusalem, scripture says that he stood over Jerusalem, he sees Jerusalem and he wept. He wept because he was moved with compassion. It's a Greek word, splagchnizomai, with his innards, with his in internal everything inside. It's visceral with a positive connotation of the word, a visceral love. And he said, "Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem. Oh, how I have longed to gather you like a hen gathers her chicks." That's the love. Jesus felt that love. He felt that compassion.
It's a little statement that's so simple. It's so straightforward. Let love be genuine. It's the foundation for the Christian conduct, and despite its simplicity, it's so hard to do and it's so easy to fake. And we live in a culture, the fake it until we make it. And actually, in Christian circles I've heard love is a verb. Do love and then feelings will follow. Yes, but you need to cultivate as you're acting, as you're sacrificing. 1 Peter 4A "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly since love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Timothy 1:5, "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." It's a call to honestly examine our hearts, asking the question, "Do I love others, especially those in the church, without hypocrisy?"
Second, abhor what is evil. And here there's an assumption. The assumption is that there is objective good in objective evil. It's not just consensus or polling or this is what we decided. No, no, no. There's a consensus that there's an objective good in evil because there is God and there is the will of God, and the reason the objective exists is because God exists outside of ourselves, therefore the objective morality flows out of him, it's outside of us. And how do we know what is good? How do we know what is evil? Well, we know from holy scripture, we know it from God's law. We know it from the 10 Commandments. We also know it from the power of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit renews our mind, be transformed by the renewing of your mind and then you will know what is God's good and pleasing and perfect will.
If there were no God, if there were no Christ, then good would just be subjective, not objective, and good would be in the eye of the beholder, especially a strong beholder. And this is what history shows us. Might makes right. The people with the most power, they decide what is good and what is evil. And we as Christians, I don't care how much power you got out there, there is objective good, there is objective evil, and I as a Christian am called to love God with all my heart, soul, strength, mind, and love my neighbor as myself. And when I see things out there or things in here that are contrary to the love of God and the love of people flourishing, as God calls it, shalom human prosperity, I am to hate it. I am called as a Christian to abhor what is evil.
If there were a universe in which there was no evil to hurt people or to dishonor Christ, we'd only have love, but there is evil out there. We see it every day. And so we are called as Christians to hate. Our love must include hate and true love includes hate, and this is hatred of the highest dimension. It's the word abhor, and in the Greek it's the highest level of hatred. It's an intense, inward rejection, not just mild displeasure or I don't like that. No, no, it's a hatred in the name of the Lord. We are called to loathe evil. In this world, love has to hate evil. We are to hate evil because if you love someone, you hate anything that hurts that person, even the sin within their hearts. And you've heard love the sinner, hate the sin. In a sense, that's true. We are called to love even our enemies, but we are to hate the evil out there and the evil in here.
Why? Because evil is an assault on the character of God, on the sovereignty of God. And as we seek to grow in grace, we're to seek to gain the mind of Christ and be Christlike, love what Christ loves and hate what Christ hates. Did Jesus Christ exhibit hatred in his ministry? All the time. Read the gospels. Look at John 2, as Jesus methodically sits there making a whip before he goes into the temple and drives out the moneychangers who are standing in the way of people who wanted to worship God. Hatred is one of the strongest emotions that can inhabit the heart of a human. It's destructive, it's demeaning, but not when it's directed against evil. I wrote a whole section of this sermon about all the hatred, all the evil you got to hate out there. You already know. You already know. "Joe Biden, evil, evil, agenda, narratives. I'm going to save that for the Romans 13 sermon. I can't wait. But here I just want to focus on that hatred against evil, it has to start with hating the evil within your own heart first.
Colossians 3:5-10, "Put to death." What a powerful phrase. "Mortified, put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you? Sexual morality and purity, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these, the wrath of God is coming. In these you two once walked when you were living in them, but now you must put them all away. Anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self of its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." And it takes wisdom. There are times when people are more important than principle and there are times when principle is far more important than people's feelings. And it takes divine wisdom, which comes through the word of God, through the spirit of God, through godly counsel.
Third is hold fast to what is good. As we are to despise evil, we're to cling to what is good. One of the most intense verbs in the Greek, the root is glue. The root word is glue. We have to hang on tightly to that which is good, allowing it to be cemented to our souls so that we do not drop or lose it with any cultural wind of fantasy, et cetera, et cetera. So hold onto to what is good. When you see something's good, cling on to it. Cling onto the Lord, cling onto holy scripture. Cling on to church. It's good to go to church, it's even better to join the church, to be part of the family of God. How do you do that? Well, you become a member. Well, what's the first step? You attend a membership class today at 1:00 PM. Cling on to membership, praise be to God.
Fourth is love one another with a brotherly affection. That's verse 10, and this is addressed specifically to the fellowship of the believers, the household of faith. And he's talking about affection, a kind, a tender affection toward one another like in a family love. C.S. Lewis wrote a book called The Four Loves, I would highly commend it to you. and he says in it there are basically four kinds of love, and he goes through the four verbs that are used in scripture. The first is agape, which we just talked. It's a Godlike self-giving love even toward enemies. Then there's philia, the love of friendship and camaraderie. There's eros, the love of romance and desire and sexual attraction, and storge, the love of affection that arises through natural attachment. And this is the verb that he uses, philia/storge. It's not discriminating.
Friends or lovers when they meet each other, they say, "We're made it for each other. You're my second half. You're just like me," or, "You completely," et cetera, cetera. But the special glory of storge is that it unites people who would never have been united otherwise. Storge exists between people who if they found themselves in the same household or community, if they had not found themselves in the same community, they would have nothing to do with each other, kind of like your siblings. If you have siblings, sometimes you look at your sibling and it's like, "I'm stuck with you. I am stuck with you." They're also stuck with you, so a little humility there. You don't choose your siblings, and don't blame your parents. They didn't choose your kids either. But the storge is you don't have a choice, you have to love each other. That's the love he's talking about.
And he doesn't just say stand each other or bear with each other. That's other bible verses where he does say that, sometimes you just got to bear with it. He says, "No, no, no. There's got to be a tender affection, just like in a loving family. 1 Peter 1:22, "Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere, brotherly love. Love one another earnestly from a pure heart." Again, something that we need to feel, not just something that we do. It's a family affection. Look at Philippians 1:8. Paul says, "For God as my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus." Splagchnizomai, again with the affection, the intestines, the inner organs, it comes from the inside. He says, "I long for you. I love you." Not just I want to see you or do something for you, but there's a tender affection.
2 Corinthians 6:11-13, "We've spoken freely to you, Corinthians. Our church, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return, I speak as to children. Widen your hearts also. Widen your hearts. May your hearts not be cramped or narrow with affection." I just want to pause. Sometimes we read a commandment like this, love one another and brotherly love and tender affection, and even without thinking, you are like, "Okay, but I don't feel anything. Oh. Since I don't feel anything, then I don't really have to do it." This is a commandment for people who have the personality type, and you take some personality tests and it's like, "This is for extroverts, brotherly affection. I'm an introvert. No, I don't have to do it."
And Paul would say, "No, no, no. You have to sit under this." If you feel nothing for brothers and sisters or you're going through a season where your affections have fallen asleep, well, you need to sit under this word of God and you need to pray. Holy Spirit, reawaken the affection or give me new affections for my brothers and sisters. Give me this supernatural love for my brothers and sisters." And by the way, love is something you can grow in, just like faith is. 2 Thessalonians 1:3 says, "We are always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right because your faith is growing abundantly and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing." You can grow it, and I believe in you. I believe in you, Mosaic. Part of my work as a pastor, my job is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.
I think of myself sometimes as a coach. I want to equip you to excel. I want you to win in life. And my daughters, they play soccer and I've seen over the years, I've seen two different types of coaches here in Brookline. And they're rare, the first type of coach, he yells at them. He's direct, he tells them what to do. He shows up and I remember one game, my daughter Elizabeth, coach showed up and said, "Today we're going to win 10-0," and he said it extra loud so the other team would hear. He said, "We are going to obliterate them," and the team's like, "Yeah," and the other girls are like, "Ah." And I'm like, "That's tremendous. That's really good coaching." And they won six to zero and they were kind of bummed. I was not bummed. I enjoyed every single goal. It was tremendous.
And then there are coaches that are like, "Hi, ladies. We're here just to have fun," and those games never fu, I'll tell you that. You know what's fun? Winning. Winning is fun. You know what's not fun? Losing eight to one in the last game of the season. That's not fun at all for anybody. And the coach, he's like, "High five, good." They were down five nothing at the half and he's like, "Just pretend this score is 0-0." I'm like, "That's not the real world, man. That's not how it works." So I'm not that coach, and some churches are like that. They read it and they're like, "This is impossible. Try your hardest. Okay, let's go have some brunch." No, no, no. This is true, and I'm calling you to it and I believe in you, and you can work your heart. You can train your affections, just like if you start working out.
You get under the barbell and squat that first time, it's excruciating. It's hell on Earth and then you can't walk for three days, it's awful, and no one taught you about taking protein supplements. But after a while that stress and that pressure makes you stronger, so how can you grow in this? How can you grow and love? You put yourself in positions where it's uncomfortable to love brothers and sisters. This is why we practice community groups. This is why we practice church membership, where you sit with brothers and sisters in their presence, they feel your presence. You pray together, you read scripture, you break bread together. And the longer you're together in a place, Boston's hard with brotherly affection and growing that love because transients, 30% of the people in the room today probably won't be here in a year, but I'm calling of you to stay forever. Please stay.
And so they move away, so you get to know people for a year to two years and you don't really get to know them, but if you're in the same church for years and you see the ups and downs, you see how people handle prosperity, you see how people handle adversity and then you realize oh, it does take work and God does give power. Five is to outdo one another in showing honor, that's 10, be outdo one another in showing honor. We're not to seek honor for ourselves, but rather to deflect honor, reflect honor. So people honor us and you say, "Oh, you're good looking," and you say, "No, you're better looking," something like that. "You're tremendous." "No, you're even tremendous-er." You're always outdoing one another in showing honor. That's why I do call people sir. "Nice to see you, sir. It's good to see you, ma'am." Just honor. Honor. A person has a title, I'll call you by your title, whatever. You honor people.
And part of it is this is what the trinity is. The Holy Trinity, Father, son, and holy spirit, one God, three persons. They're constantly outdoing one another in honoring. There's a humility. The Father wants to see the glory of the son, the son wants to see the glory of the Father, the Holy Spirit wants to give glory to both, so we are to prefer honoring others more than we prefer being honored. We are to prefer elevating others more than we are elevated. Sometimes people are not worthy of the honor, they don't act honorably, but scripture says even at those moments, even of those people, we are to treat them as if they were honorable. Look at 1 Timothy 6:1. This is Paul speaking to Christian bond servants. The equivalent culturally would be employees and bosses. "Let all who are under a yoke as bond servants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled."
So how does this apply to us? We are to honor those in positions of authority over us, and we are to honor those who are not in positions over us. The people can be scoundrels, but you can regard them as worthy of honor, even if they're not worthy of it, in the same way that Jesus Christ counts you worthy of righteousness. You're not worthy of Christ's righteousness, it's imputed righteousness. Christ earned that righteousness, he counts it to us. Even people don't deserve the honor, we are called to honor in the church in particular. Another example is 1 Corinthians 12:23. He gives a comparison between the weak members of the church and certain parts of the body. 1 Corinthians 12:23, "And on those parts of the body that we think less honorable, we bestow the greater honor and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty."
So showing honor is not always a response to someone being honorable, and here, a word of caution. Beware of honoring only one kind of person or preferring to honor a certain kind of person, one race or one gender, one socioeconomic status or educational level, age, a way of dressing, a body weight or one personality. God gets actually angry. God hates that. God abhors this kind of partiality and dishonoring of the church. James 2:1-6, "My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, for if a man wearing a gold ring and a fine clothing comes into your assembly and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say you sit here in a good place while you say to the poor man you stand over there or sit down at my feet, have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"
Listen, my beloved brothers. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man, are not the rich ones who oppress you in the ones who drag you into court. My sister approached me after the first service. This is why second service is awesome, you got more content. She approached me and she's like, "James 2," she's like, "In my church back in Brooklyn," for the longest time this gentleman come in with just the shabbiest coat, just holes in it and shabby, shabby, and then the ladies in the church got together and for Christmas, they pooled money together to get this gentleman a brand new coat. And they give him the coat and he kind of doesn't know how to respond.
He's like, "Oh that's nice of you." And then he is like, "Do you know I am the guy who just donated a brownstone to this church?" And they're like, "Oh." And so for two reasons I like that story. First of all, it illustrates James 2, and second of all, I'm like, "Lord, send us a gentleman with a shabby coat to donate us a brownstone. Praise be to God." And then also, that's Brooklyn. He's probably just being a hipster, I don't know. So don't show partiality. And then point six, there's a lot of points, six, seven and eight is basically together, so you're welcome. Do not be slothful and zeal, be fervent in spirit and serve the Lord. Negatively, don't be slothful, lazy in zeal, positively be fervent in spirit, and both are describing how we are to serve the Lord. We are to serve the Lord.
Do lots of work for the Lord, and it has to be passionate, it has to be zealous. God does not want your labor that is done begrudgingly. And the word for slothful here is used in another place in the parable of the talents. This is Matthew 25. You should go back and read it maybe even today, wonderful passage illustrating this idea of slothfulness and zeal. And the story is a gentleman is a master. He has many resources and he picks these three gentlemen and to one of them he gives five talents, the equivalent of basically $5 million. Another one he gives two talents, $2 million. Another guy, he gives one talent or $1 million and he says, "Go and invest. It's not your money. Go and invest this. I'm going to come back and I want not just what I gave you, but I want the return on that investment."
So the guy that had $5 million goes and he invested, he's the manager of a stock portfolio or whatever, invests it, makes another $5, 100% return. Tremendous. The guy with the two talents does the same thing. The guy with the one talent goes and he buries it and he just waits until the guy returns, when the master returns. And to both the guy with the five and the two talents, the master said this, this is Matthew 25:21, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You've been faithful over little. I will set you over much. Enter the joy of your master." Whenever I read that text I'm like, "Oh, I can't wait to hear that in heaven on the Lord's day." And every Christian, you should long to hear these words. "Well done, good and faithful servant." God sees your service. When others don't see, God sees and God's keeping track of your service.
Well done, good and faithful. Enter the joy. And the guy with one talent, the guy that buried the talent, did nothing with it comes back, gives him a talent, and this is what the master said. His master answered, "You wicked and slothful servant." Now, these a parallel verses and parallel language. So to the faithful ones he said, "Well done, good and faithful," and then to this guy he says, "Wicked and slothful," so the opposite of good is wicked and the opposite of faithful, we assume it should be unfaithful. That's not what he says. The opposite of faithfulness is slothfulness. The guy was just lazy when it came to the master. And for us, this is lazy. And slothfulness when it comes to our service to the Lord. I assume that guy didn't just go and sit on a haystack and just enjoy his life and do nothing. No, no, no. He was probably diligent toward himself, toward his own business and enterprise and didn't want to work for the master, and that's called pride and sin.
So slothful is the opposite of faithful, and here the word fervent, "Be fervent in spirit," it's a synonym to zealous, fervent, same idea. The word fervent comes from the Latin fervens, which means boiling. There's a fire aspect to it, and that's exactly that Latin word, it comes from the original Greek zeontes, which is boiling. Boiling in spirit. So the idea clearly is not just mere hard work, it's not just efficiency for the Lord. The spirit is in view, not just the body. It's not just what you do with your body for the Lord, I'm going to do all the right things. No, your spirit has to be in it. Feeling is in the view, not just doing, so both these clauses together, put them together, don't just do lots. Do it, but feel for the lord. Feel this fire.1 Corinthians 15:58, Therefore my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your work is not in vain." Jesus speaks terrible words of warning to those who settle into lukewarm affections for the Lord. Actually, lukewarmness, scripture says, is nauseating to Jesus. This is Revelations 3:15-16. "I know your works. You're neither cold nor hot, would that you were either cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." It's nauseating when God sees lukewarm Christians. And why is it nauseating? Because he's like, "I died for you. I poured out my blood for you and you're going to be lukewarm," and spits it out of the mouth. Hot or cold? Are you hot or cold? He wants us all hot.
He wants us all hot. Hot or cold, it's like coffee. No one serves room temperature coffee. No one does. I've never gone to a coffee shop and they're like, "Here's some tepid coffee." Nobody does that for some reason, it's disgusting. It's either hot coffee or ice coffee with a straw, preferably plastic, not paper. Abhor what is evil. Over and over, the Bible says, "Intensity matters. Zeal matters. Wholeheartedness matters," and we aren't to settle for anything less. Why? Because we exist to tell people about how great God is. We exist to spread the passion for the supremacy of God, and you can't spread what you don't have. You can't. Evangelism without passion does not work. People see right through it. They want to know, do you really believe in this God, in this message?
So if you don't have passion or passion wanes, go to the Lord in prayer. Sometimes it's just a matter of you got to take a break, you need rest, you need solitude, just time with the Lord. So when it comes to serving Christ, halfheartedness, lukewarmness, laziness, sluggish and slothfulness, utterly inappropriate. Why? Because we're saved by Jesus Christ. We know what it took to get us saved, and we need to never forget that. This is the greatest thing in the world. You have Christian eternal life, you cannot die. Your body will die, but you will not die. You will live forever in overwhelming joy. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. Everything works for your good. All your troubles, all your sorrows produce in eternal weight of glory.
Not to be passionate about that, there's something wrong. There's something wrong. And I see my fellow neighbor and I see brothers and sisters in the Lord so passionate about things, like football for example, and I'm preaching to myself. By the way, I'm getting a lot better at this. This season I haven't even watched one full game, praise be to God, because Mac Jones stinks, that's why. But you see people who go to Gillette Stadium, they go, they spend thousands of dollars. It's basically their church. That's their worship service. Their communion is beer and a chili dog, and those are their heroes, and at the end of the day, that means nothing. We are to get zeal, and where does that seal zeal come from? It comes from the Holy Spirit.
Look at Colossians 1:28 and 29. "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom that we may present everyone what's sure in Christ. For this I toil," Paul says, "Struggling with all whose energy? His energy. I'm struggling with his energy that he powerfully works within me. Lord, give us this energy. Lord give us this power. Lord give us this zeal. 1 Peter 4:11, "Whoever speaks as one who speaks oracles of God, whoever serves as one who serves by the strength that God supplies in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to him belong glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen." What do you do when the zeal wanes? Well, the zeal, what is a fire, you got to feed the fire. You got to feed the fire, you do that with scripture.
Whatever feeds your fire, do that and never let it flag but be aglow with the spirit and serve the Lord. Such fervent zeal and fervency of spirit, it's costly. It takes our best energy. Martin Luther, he in his biographies, it said that at the end of the day, he would literally just fall into bed. Just *plump*. His bedtime prayer was, "Lord, I'm tired. Amen," so that connects Calvin's biographers marvel at his output. John Wesley rode 60 to 70 miles a day on average to preach three sermons. Where do they get this power? Jonathan Edwards talks about this in a sermon on the kingdom of God, Matthew 11:12, where it says, "From the days of John the Baptist, until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence and the violence take it by force." There is a spiritual, there's a violence in your Christian walk.
You need to have this violence. Why? Because you're mortifying sin. You're fighting the good fight, this demonic attack against you. You want more growth, you want more growth in faith, more growth in love, more growth in good work, Satan doesn't want that. Now there's attacks from the demonic, and what do you do in moments like that? You get stronger. You get more violent against the evil out there, the evil in here, and you take more faith, more love, more fervor and you take it by force. Nine is rejoice in hope. Don't just rejoice in circumstances, don't just rejoice in your whatever season of life. No, you'll rejoice in hope. You focus on the hope, not on the joy. There's a lot of things in life that if you focus on them, you're like, "There is no hope. There is no joy." No. You focused on hope.
Hebrews 6:11, "And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end." He's talking to us about hope as being full of assurance. Well that's different than the way that we use hope in the English language. I hope it's nice tomorrow, I hope to go to vacation soon, I hope the Pats get a little better. I hope, and nothing's guaranteed. This hope is assured. So if you focused on this assured hope, what's that? That's the eschatological truth. We will spend eternity with God. What is this life? It's just a blip on the radar of eternity. We're going to spend eternity with God. We've got focus on the hope of the glory of God, and that fills your heart with joy, which is not just an act of the will. A lot of people look at the commandment.
So in Philippians it says, "Rejoice in the Lord and rejoice in him always." That's an imperative. It's a commandment. And they were like, "God commands you to rejoice, so you have to use your will to rejoice." Well, that's part of it. That's part of it. The will, you have to have your will focused on the Lord, focused on the hope. Why are you downcast, oh my soul? You preach to yourself, but there are to be emotions that will up in your heart. As 1 Peter 1:8 says, "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and a rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory. A joy that is unutterable." The biblical concept of joy, it's connected to the Godhead himself. Well done, good and faithful servant, welcome into your master's what? Joy, meaning in the household of God, in the presence of God, that's where we experience this unutterable joy.
So that's why when I tell people about the gospel and I'm like, "Hey, you should be Christian," I'm not just come to Jesus for all of your sons that are forgiven." Yes, that's the first step, and then you begin to feel this joy, this satisfaction. You can't even explain it. You're with the Lord, everything around you, it's like that meme of the little girl where there's a fire behind her and she's like, or the meme of the dog where it's like, "This is fine." You know that meme? Sometimes the Christian walk is like that, but you can really say this is fine because you're in the Lord and your eternity is secure. 10 is be patient in tribulation, and Paul's writing about patience here, the virtue of forbearance, of hanging on when things are tough. And we are to remember the patience of Job, who cried out in the midst of his agony.
Lost everything, lost his kids, lost his health, and Job 13:5, "Though he slay me, I will hope in him. I will argue my ways to his face," that last part he should not have said, but you know what, I look at it and I'm like at least he kept the conversation with the Lord going. He didn't get pissed at the Lord and he turned around and said, "You know what? I'm done with this," he said, "I'm going to present my kid. I'm going to keep praying," and that's how you remain patient in tribulation, knowing that God is sovereign. And sometimes it does feel like God's slaying you, and why should we be surprised? We worship his son, Jesus Christ. Who put Jesus Christ on the cross? It was our sin, of course. It was also the will of God the father. In Gethsemane, Jesus under immense pressure, the capillaries in his face are bursting, mixed with blood. It's like he's sweating blood." Father, let this cup pass from me." Then what? "Not my will, but yours be done, tho he slay me." So there is tribulation. Psalm 23, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear for you are with me." Oh, you're with me. How did I get in the valley of the shadow of death? He led you there, but keep going, keep going. Remain patient, keep going, keep going, and then you get to the end of the psalm, the greener pastures, still waters, et cetera. Christian joy allows you to flourish right in the midst of pain and suffering. Romans 5:3, "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance." 2 Corinthians 8:2, For a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy in their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part."
2 Corinthians 6:10, "As sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing everything." In a sense, there are spiritual mood swings where it's like spiritual moodiness, where it's like I'm suffering, I'm rejoicing, I'm suffering, I'm rejoicing. It's like the weather in New England, you never know what you're going to get. You have no idea. But despite the suffering, I can be rejoicing. Tribulation is a normal experience of believers in this life, and we shouldn't be surprised. Look at our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He comes into this world in affliction. His birth was scandalous, conceived before marriage. He was born in an animal feeding trough, that was his bed, and he was threatened and hated by the political powers, Herod at that time. Barely escaped as a child, becomes a refugee in Egypt, and so that went until he was accused of sedition against Caesar and crucified. That was the life of our Lord and Savior.
That's the way Christianity began, so we should not be surprised when with there is tribulation. Luke 14:27, "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." Matthew 10:25, in the words of Christ, "It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher and the servant like his master. If you have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they malign those of his household?" So Jesus was called Beelzebub, that's another name for Satan. Jesus by the religious people was called Satan, and Jesus was like, "Don't be surprised when they call you evil," because we live in a society, we live in a culture that looks at evil, calls it good, looks at good and calls it evil. So if you stand up and you say, "No, your good is actually evil and your evil is actually good," how do you think culture will respond, people will respond?
1 Peter 4:12, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you." So how do you remain patient in tribulation? Well, you remain constant in prayer. You devote yourself to prayer. Prayer is an ongoing dialogue between our heart and the heart of the Lord. We're always conscious of God's presence, relying on him, communicating with the Father in our thoughts and does take a devotion. You have to set part time for prayer. Acts 1:14, "All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. Acts 2:42, "And they, the early church, devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers." Colossians 4:2, Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. And 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." It's just a continuous dialogue even with God always. Why continue? Because we live in this world and there are many needs in life and family and churches and world missions and the culture, and so we pray.
12 is contribute to the needs of the saints, that's verse 13. The whole orientation of the Christian is not work to have but work to have to give. That should be the whole orientation of why we work. We work to have to give. Matthew 6:19-21, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in steal, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." A little more descriptive in Luke 12:32, "Fear not little flock, for it is your father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, give to the needy. Provide for yourselves with moneybag that do not grow old with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys, for where your treasurer is, there will your heart be also."
Or Titus 3;145, "And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works so as to help cases of urgent need and not be unfruitful." 2 Corinthians 9:7, "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Ephesians 4:28, "Let the thief no longer steal but rather let him labor, doing honest work with own hands so that he may have something to share with anyone in need." I pray God prospers all of you. All of you. I pray the Lord blesses the work of your hands, your crypto investments, everything, everything, everything. I pray all of you are prospered and that you remember that when God prospers us, it's not just to increase my standard of living, but it's to increase my standard of giving.
And love is sacrifice. It's costly. That's why the word for contribute here, it's from koinonia, which means fellowship. And what he's saying is when you understand that you're in the family of God, that you're part of the fellowship, that you are a family. Well, in a family, someone else's needs are actually your needs. And third is seek to show hospitality. When Job was protesting against his sickness, one of the virtues that he said he never neglected was hospitality. Job 31-32, "The sojourner or the immigrant has not lodged in the street. I have opened my doors to the traveler." So one of the God appointed duties of every righteous person is hospitality. How do I define hospitality? It's welcoming people into your home who do not belong there. That's hospitality. And I say the word home strategically, not house, because it can be an apartment. It can be just a room, your room in a basement in Austin, and it doesn't have to be lavish.
This is why a lot of us, we don't practice hospitality. Don't tell my mom. My mom was like this growing up. She'd be like, "Okay, someone's coming over," and the house, everything is just perfect. Five course meal, just everything, mayonnaise on everything because we're Russian, just everything. And then after they would leave, she would get so mad at my dad for inviting everyone. Why? Because she's emotionally exhausted, physically exhausted. My house, we turn on the vacuum cleaner on Tuesdays. You know why? Because that's when our community group is. And I tell my wife, "Let's not even clean. Let's show everyone genuine love. I'm going to show you my authentic, this is how we live. Come on in, don't break an ankle, et cetera." Paper plates is fine. Plastic utensils, fine. Paper straws, not fine. That's not hospitable. You saw that coming. You saw that.1 Peter 4, 8-9, "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly. Since love covers a multitude of sins, show hospitality to one another without grumbling." It's not just a command to do something, it's a continuous verb, action, meaning it's not just about what you do, show hospitality, it's about who you are, a certain kind of person, where you are hospitable. He's saying let your hospitality be an extension of an overflow of God's hospitality to you. Hebrews 13, "Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware." Sometimes angels show up, they look like they're human and they say, "Can I come over?" And you're like, "I don't have any food," and you say, "Let's go to Los Amigos, Angel." You go to Los Amigos, you give them a surf and turf and bring them to your house, and the angel blesses you. And you had no idea that was an angel, but you know when they left, just everything's different. Praise be to God. Has that ever happened to me? I don't know. I don't know, but you always feel better after hospitality.
In conclusion, I just want to point out from the Old Testament, where do they get this idea of hospitality? Well, we get it from the fact that we did not belong in the household of God. We did not belong in the Promised Land, so to speak, just like Israel. In Leviticus19:33, Israel is told, "When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt, I am the Lord your God." So the motivation for being hospitable to strangers is you were an immigrant, therefore be hospitable to immigrants, but he doesn't just land there. He also says, "I am the Lord your God," because sometimes that's not enough motivation because you forget.
The motivation that he gives us ultimately to be hospitable is God has been hospitable to us, Jesus Christ is hospitable to us. What is grace? Grace is the hospitality of God to welcome sinners who did not deserve a place in the household of God, and God adopts us as sons and daughters. God welcomes us into his house. How does he do this? By sending Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ leaves the father's house, comes lives in this miserable world, lives a perfect life, never sins. He was homeless. Jesus Christ said he did not have a place to rest his head. So be like Jesus, come move to Boston. You also will be homeless without a home, but that's what Jesus did. He did not have a house and he just served people, and he did all of that to welcome us into the household of God, so much so that Jesus experienced cosmic abandonment, cosmic alienation, cosmic homelessness.
On the cross, he's crying out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? God the Father forsakes God the Son so that we would have a place in the father's house. That's cosmic hospitality. God's been hospitable to us, so we are to be hospitable to others. When we started the church in the YMCA downtown, our tagline was, "Mosaic Boston, a church that feels like coming home," and that feels nice. It was also strategic marketing because we had a church full of college students, and that's basically anyone that would come to our church because I was like, 28 and no one... So we would feed them, we'd care for them, and little by little, it really became a church family. It really turned into a church that feels like coming home.
So I pray that for us and I pray this text over us. If you missed any of the points, fret not. Just open your Bible, it's all there. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you for a beautiful text, a powerful text, a text that's so simple in many ways and so difficult for us to live out so we ask for grace and we ask for mercy, and we ask for the power of the Holy Spirit. Lord, continue to knit our hearts together and make us truly a Romans 12 church. And we pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.

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