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Romans Chapter 12 is where we’re going to be together today. This is a beautiful section of scripture. Romans Chapter 12. We’re in a transition place in this book as we’ve studied together. And today we’re going to talk about three areas of a transformed life. We’re going to explore some areas that Paul wants to engage and what it looks like to have a transformed life. And if you categorize the book of Romans, really chapter 12 is this transitional place where you can put the first 11 chapters in one section and chapters 12 to 16 in another section, the first 11 chapters. Talk about your relationship with God, how to know Christ and find your identity in Him. It’s the gospel, right? In Chapter 12 to 16 is now how to live out the Gospel. What does that look like in your life now that you choose to have responded to the invitation that Christ has given you by putting faith in him, finding new life in him, identity in Him? Now God’s got a purpose for your life that he desires for you to to live out. So what does that look like? This is the expression of your faith becoming tangible. That’s Romans chapter 12, really to the end of the book and Romans chapter 12, verse one and two is one of those passages of the Bible where people love to memorize this. For some, it’s one of their most favorite verses in all of the Bible, where Paul begs us, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living, sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of service.
And don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is the good and acceptable perfect will of God. It’s the laying down of your self, which these these verses are really the antidote of where society struggles. Because what what society tends to teach you in a, in a godless environment is the way that you discover your meaning in life is to look deeper within you and whatever makes you happy, that’s what you pursue. And so if you start that journey, what you ultimately find is, yeah, you might find some temporary pleasure in the things that you do in this life. But ultimately there is this deeper, unsatisfied part of yourself. You you can’t discover within you the reason you were created because you didn’t make you and Romans Chapter 12, verse one and two gives you an alternative far different than simply looking inside of you, but rather it’s looking beyond you to the one who made you. And that is God. If you don’t surrender your life to God, who is your creator? Who made you for a purpose? Anything you choose to do apart from that is simply subhuman. It’s less than your divine design. The only way you fulfill the purpose for your existence is to find who you are, not within you, but beyond you.
And that is in the Lord himself. And the way that you do that is surrendering your life completely to Him to discover what God has made you for in Christ. Your journey with the Lord begins in the in the humility of your soul as you come before the cross, recognizing Jesus gave his life for you so that you can find life in him. And then in that life you have the opportunity to respond. And in Romans chapter 12 and starting in verse nine, Paul then starts to lay out for us what it looks like in a world where we are surrendered to the Lord desiring to live for him, the tangible expression of our faith. And in verse nine, he starts, really this this explanation of the living in a proverbial way, this wisdom literature of talking to us, of how how our lives should mimic a life of Christ when we are surrendered to him. And as Paul describes this as starting in verse nine, this is not an exhaustive description of of what a Christian life surrendered to the Lord should look like, But it begins to help us understand really the foundation of of how our lives should be lived in light of surrendering completely to the Lord. And when Paul writes this, he also writes this in recognition that sometimes our circumstances and relationships are difficult, but yet God doesn’t want to to wait till things look easy to to work in your life.
Rather, God chooses and desires to want to work in your life in every circumstance. And so when when Christians come to this sort of a passage, what we begin to learn is Christians learn to to rise above the the environment and set a tone for a new way of life. They develop a new culture in living in a society of their people as they gather together because of what Christ has done. And so Paul starts this these three areas of being transformed in the Christian life. And one of the foundational thoughts he expresses for us at the at the very beginning here is let love be genuine, let love be genuine. The idea of being genuine is it’s not masked. You’re not you’re not a pretender. You’re not loving. In order to get something, you’re not simply loving, in order to boast in a flattery toward someone else, or to manipulate somebody to get really something that you want that’s not biblical love. Biblical love is about surrendering your life and helping someone else become all that they’re called to be in the Lord. It’s about laying your life down to serve for the benefit of another and the only way. This can happen is supernaturally. The only way this can happen is if you find your life completely filled in Christ. You don’t need the approval of others because you’ve been satisfied in your identity in Jesus.
If you don’t find your life complete in Christ, you’re going to be constantly looking for other things and other places and other people in this world to give you affirmation in who you are and trying to build you up because you’re lacking in in your purpose and understanding of who you are in light of how God has made you. But when we are secure in our identity in Christ, we don’t have to come to other people in order to to discover who we are because we’ve found it in the Lord. And therefore, when we engage in relationship, our life can be a life of service because our life is found complete in Christ. But Paul is going to recognize as we go on a little further here that it’s not always easy. There’s a poem that says to dwell above with those we know that will be the glory. But to dwell or excuse me to to dwell with those we know that will be the glory. But to dwell below with those we know, that’s that’s a different story. Right? He’s saying there is there is complexity in our relationships. Right? We long to be in eternity and where it’s going to be perfect. But but right here, right now, it’s hard. There’s circumstances that make life difficult. And so to let love be genuine is a certainly a high calling and and only comes with a life completely surrendered and discovering identity in the Lord. And what’s important about Christian love to understand is that our love, according to what Jesus is saying here, is this agape love, this unconditional sacrificial type love.
And it’s it’s it’s not a feeling. Certainly there are feelings engaged in love, but more than a feeling, it’s a decision of the will. You understand who God called you to be. And therefore, by a decision of your will, you are willing to surrender your life in order to honor God and bless others. Now, hopefully you enjoy the feeling of that experience, but sometimes sometimes you feel the sacrifice more than necessarily the happiness. But there is fruit on the back end of that. If we remain faithful to what God has called us to. But the only way to experience this journey is dying to self. And so when you think about this transformed life and Paul’s going to give us three aspects of that. And point number one in your notes is this He wants to deal with your relationships in the church. It starts with your relationships in the church. And so as Paul gets to verse nine, then he he really gives this pre-game speech as a coach of trying to get the troops out now and saying, okay, now that you understand the first 11 chapters of what it looks like to find your identity in Jesus, let’s do this. Let’s go team. Right. Here’s your playbook. Now go live it out and what Christ has called you to in this world.
And and so he deals beginning with this relationship with the church, because this is the foundational place for where we we communicate about our identity so we can successfully live it in this world. And he says then abhor what is evil, hold fast to what is good. And what Paul is recognizing is if you genuinely love people, you’re going to have a disdain for the things that destroy their souls. You’re going to want to stand in defense of them even when they don’t want you to stand in their defense and and to encourage them along, in truth. Now, there’s a way that Christians would engage this passage that’s absolutely obnoxious. And there’s a way that we can engage this passage that that is honoring to the Lord and a blessing to others. And what I mean is sometimes Christians will take a passage like this and and just because it says abhor what is evil, they’ll they’ll use that as an excuse to be a jerk. And God doesn’t want you to be a jerk, right? God cares about what you believe, the truth of what you believe. And God also cares about how you behave. The way you behave is an expression of what you believe. And people can tell when you communicate. If you’re speaking down to them or you’re speaking in order to build them up. But it’s important that we stand for truth, because truth is what sets us free.
And in fact, we know within this world that as Christians, we war against a spiritual battle. Paul tells us in Ephesians that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against forces of spiritual darkness. We are not here in this world as God’s people to fight against people, but God has called us to fight for people. And the thing that sets them free is truth. And when you think about the way that spiritual forces work within the Bible, even Satan, Satan is referred to in Second Corinthians Chapter 11 as an angel of light. An angel of light is an angel that gives you positive feelings, right? Satan doesn’t show up saying kill, steal and destroy. Because if that was his message, nobody’s going to believe that. Nobody wants to follow that. But you know all that Satan has to do. It’s not get you to kill, steal and destroy. All he has to do is to get you to believe a lie. Because if you can believe a lie, you can destroy your life. And the way you know that is just go back to the Garden of Eden. And the Garden of Eden. All Satan did. Will say surely. Did God say? He wanted Eve to question the truth of God. Now, I think it’s important in your faith to ask questions. That’s how we learn. But but to then take the step of taking truth and disbelieving what God said when God had plainly told them.
So they began to believe that what Satan wanted was better for them than what God had said. And all they did was believe a lie. But that lie led to the destruction. Of really the earth. Abhor what is evil. Hold fast. To what is good. I mean, even in our culture today, what we’re taught is you define your truth. But the problem with that is you’re not the creator of truth. Truth is not subjective. Truth Ultimate truth is objective. There’s times where we can have things that are subjective. Like I could declare to you the best basketball team in all of the NBA is the Utah Jazz. The end of the season has proven otherwise, right for some of you. But I choose to reject what you have to say about it, right? To me, that’s all that matters. So there’s some subjective subjectivity in that. But we’re talking about ultimate truth. There is objective truth that defines who we are as human beings. And that is that is not me to define that. It will lead to the destruction of my soul because I didn’t make me. And I might find temporary pleasure in buying into that lie. But ultimately, there’s an emptiness in where I’m at. And if you really love someone, if you really care about someone, you’re going to abhor the things that destroy them and talk about the things that will encourage them down the path of life for all of eternity.
Finding their purpose and identity in the Lord. In our culture that is not popular. But for God’s people, it is important. We’re not just talking about. Well, I don’t want people to get mad at me. We’re talking about souls forever. Living in eternity forever. We’re talking steaks of heaven and hell. Life in Jesus. Knowing him or not, that is far more important than whether or not someone gets upset with me. Now, there is a way that you do that that’s important and still honoring people which which Paul goes on and further and talks about that right in verse ten. He goes on and says, Love one another with a brotherly affection, outdoing one another in showing honor. This idea of brotherly affection is recognized that when, when when God moves within your life, he’s also bringing you into a family. And this is his family. And the way that we treat one another in God’s family is important because you’re referenced in Scripture as the bride of Christ, right? And you don’t want to be an affront to Jesus’s bride because you’re going to lose that battle right like this. There is nothing more honoring, I think, to the Lord than the way that you might treat his bride. Like I tell my boys all the time in our home, guys, you want to love me? Love your mother? Right. And I’d say the same thing is true with Jesus. You want to be the the tangible expression of of wanting to demonstrate your concern and care for Christ.
Start with God’s people, encourage them devoted to one another. One of the beautiful things about the early church in Acts Chapter two, it tells us when they first gathered in Acts chapter two, verse 41, that they were devoted to the apostles teaching the breaking of bread and sharing all things in common. They did a wonderful thing when they gathered and it says in verse 47, and the Lord was adding to their number day by day, those who were being saved. The society around them saw how beautiful the fellowship was within that community, and it became contagious people in a good way. It’s the only only time being contagious is good. But. But in a good way. It was invitational to want to belong to a community that really cared about one another as they lived out their identity. For the Lord, you can’t do what God has called you to do without people. It’s even in Romans 12. You see this laid out, right? Lay your life down for the Lord. And the very next thing he says is, Let’s talk then. How you’re living and how you’re living is all about relationship for him. Because in order to live what God has called you to live, you need relationship. God wants you to glorify him in this world. And the best place to do it is with people, because God made people in his image.
And so he says with his brotherly love and outdoing one another in showing honor. And if there is one thing our culture needs to know today. It is how to show honor. You want the kind of life that God can bless. Be a person that shows honor. You send honor up, Lord sends blessing down. And I don’t mean that in some prosperity way. It’s literally that’s the way God blesses. If if someone in this world acts shamefully and your response is to throw mud back, that’s not the kind of life God can bless. And showing honor becomes important. I mean, you see the plague of our society today and where it’s at and it’s lack of honoring people. And if you can’t honor a person, you can at least honor the position because that’s how a society operates and that’s the way the Lord desires to move. And his people, as we learn to show honor. And the place that begins is the home. The home sets the tone for how a generation will be raised to show honor. You look at our culture today, you see no honor, and you wonder what in the world happened. And the answer is it’s found in the destruction of the home. It speaks to what’s happening in the home. And so what we have in a generation now is a problem that’s been arise because what’s not been taught is how to honor within the home. In fact, when you look at the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20, the first Four Commandments deal with our relationship with God.
The next Six Commandments deal with our relationship with one another. And do you know the first commandment out of all the commandments that God gives in dealing with our relationship with one another is verse 12 Honor your. Father and mother. This is the first commandment that comes with a blessing. Out of all the Ten Commandments, it’s funny when you go read those Ten Commandments that are written in Exodus chapter 20, it’s that one that’s that’s given a blessing that if you learn to honor, you’re going to have a life that will be blessed both practically and spiritually before the Lord. You go to an employer and you think an employer, they they want to promote people in certain positions and you think they’re going to go with the complainer or they’re going to go with someone that that can show honor even when it’s difficult. That’s a respectable person. And it’s the kind of way that God can move in this world by someone who who really wants to demonstrate his goodness in life. I mean, your ultimate example in all of that is Jesus. I think about even the end of his life the way that he was. He was brought before public shamed his scourged crown of thorns, put on his head, beaten and hung on a cross. And what does he say? Father, forgive them.
Father. Forgive them. I mean, he looks at a thief who cursed him and within a few moments later, from his own mouth thief. You will be with me this day in paradise. It’s incredible. Showing honor. And then he goes on and says, Do not be slothful in zeal, but fervent in spirit. Serve the Lord. You know, one of the greatest challenges I think Christians face is the idea of of passivity. The sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden was the sin of passivity. And God told Adam not to eat of the fruit. He didn’t tell that to Eve. He told it directly to Adam. Adam was then responsible to share that with Eve. But But what did Adam do in that moment rather than rather than say something to Eve in the midst of the the serpent interacting with her, It tells us in Scripture that Adam just sat passively by her and watched her take steps towards her destruction. And once she ate of the fruit, Adam thought, Oh, she didn’t die. Let me let me have a bite of that. And then God shows up, right? That was the sin of passivity. Guys, can I tell you, I love to remind us as men that in your life, in your home, if you remain passive, the people that suffer from that, women and children and ladies, that doesn’t mean then just throw all the responsibility on the guys. It’s the same thing for you.
God’s giving you responsibility in this world, and when you don’t fulfill that responsibility, the people around you that God has called you to love, to minister, to, to to be an influence on, to represent Jesus to we suffer. But rather what God desires for us to have is a is a zeal, a passion for Jesus. And and I know in our culture again today that’s not a popular thing. But before the Lord, it’s honoring to him. It’s okay to be excited about a sports team, but don’t you talk about your beliefs. Right? That’s what we say. But we think when you express those things, there’s a there’s a way you want to do it. That’s that’s honoring to the Lord and a blessing to people. But being zealous is is not a bad thing in Scripture, a zeal for the Lord and fervent in spirit, meaning that God has put his spirit within you, for you to live out that purpose in this world. And so serve the Lord. When you when you look at American history, there’s a book called Planting Missional Churches, and he talks about what’s happened in America over the really the last century. And it’s been this decline in Christianity. And part of it, I would say, is because Christians started treating church or try to treating our community like a like a religious ritual rather than a life, a lifestyle, meaning people started to look at Christianity more like churchianity than Christianity.
You knew on Sunday, Well, we just follow this religious practice of we show up to church because that’s just what you do on Sunday. But but eventually people because they they lost their passion of wanting to know God and just started performing a religious, religious act. They forgot what they were doing to begin with. They they really they they forgot the reason why. And what’s happened in America is this steep decline in our belief in the foundation of who we are. In 1900s, early 1900s, 28 churches for every 10,020 11. The last time this statistic came out, there were 11 churches for every 10,000. I can’t even imagine. Now that Covid’s taking place, there were a handful of churches that closed during COVID, what those statistics might look like. But it speaks to the importance of God’s people being fervent and what the Lord is doing in our lives. And then He goes on and says this. He says, Rejoice in hope. Be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Rejoicing in hope is this idea of rejoicing over and over. The joy and joy again, because you’re reminding yourself of what you ultimately have in Christ. You’re not forgetting its remaining in the forefront of your identity in the Lord and all the hope that you have in Him. You know where the end lies. You know you have the victory in Jesus. And so in this in-between there might be some ups and downs in life that you’re going through.
But but because of that, you have this ultimate hope, because you know where your peace ultimately lies and you know what you ultimately have in Jesus. When you know the end of the game. It’s easier to go through the journey. Because what you have in Christ endures. And so therefore, because of that hope and that reminder in our life of what we have, we can be patient in that tribulation that we go through and tribulation for us. Then knowing that that things might be rocky and hard, we know that ultimately it’s not going to be taken away from us because what we have in Christ will last. The tribulation then becomes a place for us to to demonstrate our ultimate faith in Jesus. Tribulation becomes an opportunity to prove to the world where our hope lies. Jesus said to us in John chapter 16, He doesn’t say to you, Look, come to Jesus and you’re not going to have tribulation, but rather John, chapter 16, verse 33. He says, You will have tribulation in this world. But take hope. Because I have overcome. My great grandmother before she passed. I remember she had a stroke when I was a kid and she endured a lot at the end of her life through that. But she would always say the same thing. This too, shall pass. This too, shall pass. I remember watching her in her older age with all that wisdom, and she would have her her kids come in or grandkids come in.
All worked up. I was just a little kid, you know. I didn’t know anything other than outside is fun, right? That was I had no problems in the world at that point. But they would all come in, they would be worked up and she would just look at him. It was just that comment would bring this peace. This, too, shall pass. It’s just a reminder that in that moment, you’re in a hard spot. But this too shall pass. Don’t lose perspective of what you have in Christ. Let me say it like this. You’ll never have to apologize for the things you don’t say. Use that for Facebook later today. There’s a moment where you get worked up and you just want to spew the venom that you felt. And this, too, shall pass. Be patient in tribulation. Rejoice in the hope that you have in Christ and be constant in prayer. To not be prayerful when you go through adversity is foolish. You think not be careful in general is foolish. You have access to the King of kings and Lord of Lords. But in those moments of trial, prayer gives us the opportunity to either ask God to change it, and if he doesn’t change it, to at least walk with us through it. That’s a beautiful promise that God gives to all his people. The reality is, most of the time God doesn’t magically change the circumstance.
Or miraculously, I should say. But what he does promise is to strengthen the believer as you endure the hardship. And prayer is that way. We have have the privilege of being able to connect to him and really to seek his will through it, because it becomes easy when you’re enduring tribulation to want to become self-focused. Right. Or to throw this pity party and and just sit in misery rather than to see it from a godly perspective and recognizing Jesus walked through the darkest of storms and brought the greatest of glory. And he remained faithful to the father. Even in the night he was betrayed. What was Jesus doing? He was praying. He was praying and the darkest day of history became the greatest moment of rejoicing. And the same is true for us that we have that place of connecting with God. And when we fill this place of despair, not realizing how God could even turn that around, seeking him in prayer and watching him work out by being faithful to him. And then he goes on and says, Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Don’t just be willing to be generous and hospitable, but rather he’s encouraging us to even pursue it. And when we talk about contributing, we’re not talking about enabling people to to carry on and poor behavior. But what we’re recognizing is to say there comes sometimes in life where we’re bearing burdens that are too much for us.
And it is helpful when brothers and sisters in Christ come around you to help you carry that boulder until that weight can be carried on your own. And so we have the privilege as a community to contribute to the needs of one another to to help each other live what God has has called us to live for him. And and this is kind of contrary to the to the way that we walk in this world, like we, we, we being self-focused and thinking about being selfless, especially in terms of contributing with money. Like for us, we don’t talk about we don’t want to talk about money. Don’t you touch our money because we really it’s an idol for us. But this this Saturday we were we we we entered into the topic for our men’s group on the topic of money. I didn’t lead this discussion, but, you know, I kept thinking in my own heart when when it comes to finances in this world, this is just another avenue to express where your heart is in the Lord and God gives you all kinds of gifts in this world to use for his glory. And one of the ways that we get to tangibly do that is through the way God has blessed us financially to help people out, contributing to the needs of others. And in that it’s a display of where my heart really lies. Like if you read Romans chapter 12, verse one and two, where it tells us, lay your bodies down as a living sacrifice for the Lord.
The idea is a complete sacrifice for the Lord. If you want to see the mission of God move forward, it happens on the sacrifice of God’s people as we lay ourselves down. Let me give you an example. As a church, we have been pressed for space as a pastor on on Sundays. I find myself in a difficult place, like I love. I would love to invite more people to church, but sometimes I think to myself, but we don’t have enough places for people to sit. We can’t even invite people to come and be a part of the church because we don’t have enough places for people to sit. Like, where is that in Scripture where Jesus tells us to reach people? But I’ll never mind. We don’t have places to sit. Right? But but if we’re serious about living the mission that God has called us to live, we need to build a bigger building. But if we’re going to build a bigger building, it’s got to be about God’s people understanding the need and wanting to contribute to the cause in order to build that building. To do that in our future, there’s going to be an opportunity to make that kind of sacrifice, to demonstrate our love for the Lord. To live out his mission. It’s really not about the money. It’s about the mission that God has called us on and whether my heart is in tune to it.
And if it is, then I’m going to give of myself where the Lord leads in the need to do that. Sometimes it may be through my voice, sometimes I may teach, sometimes I may serve with my hands. Other times I may give. But it’s to make a difference in this world. Guys, I can’t think of a better place in America. You can do that. And you think about the need in Utah, Lehigh, Utah, 80 plus thousand people. And this is the only freestanding evangelical church in our community. In fact, we didn’t even build this. We kind of retrofitted a bar, which is kind of cool that you come to church in a bar. Right. But but we’re now it’s a picture of really the transformation that God makes in our life. Every once in a while, I’ll meet people. They’re like, Yeah, I used to come here and I don’t want to come back here, right? I used to come here for different reasons. Like, that’s a beautiful story then, because it deals with the transformation that God brings in our lives, right? He takes us from this place of darkness, and he moves us in this place of light, living for his glory in this world. And now we have an opportunity where we can build a building like however we want. We can build a building and you can be a part of that.
And that’s a beautiful thing to live this on mission to keep making a difference in this world. We want we want our community. If our church were to ever be gone, God forbid, we want our community to ache over our absence because what we did in our community was such a blessing to the people. It’s about the mission that God calls us on to contribute to the needs of the saints and to seek to show hospitality the way that you care for others. Hospitality is is an important word in scripture. You think anything that Jesus taught in the Bible, he taught around really around a table, around a meal. His most important lessons happened as they were eating a meal together and being hospitable with one another. When you study leadership in Scripture, hospitality is always a word that quickly follows. In fact, the appointing of pastors in ministry or elders leaders in the church. The Bible talks about hospitality very, very early on in that description. Need to be a hospitable people in all that we do. There’s an emperor Julian. Some of them he’s often referred to as as Emperor Julian, the apostate. But he said this about Christianity in the fourth century. He said, Atheism or Christianity? They referred to Christianity as atheism in the first few centuries because Christians only worshiped one God. And in Rome you were supposed to worship many gods. So they were looked at as atheists. But he says atheism has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers and through the care for the burial of the dead.
It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar and that the godless Galileans, which was a reference to Christians, care not only for their own poor but for ours as well. While those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render to them. He’s saying, You know, the way that Christianity was making an impact is by loving the people around them. In Rome during that day, if people suffered from some sort of ailment or even in poverty, it was looked at as a cursing from the gods. And therefore because the gods had abandoned them, if you stepped in and tried to love on them, then the gods would also curse you. But Christianity came in and said, That’s that’s not how it works at all. When Jesus came to those that were humble and weak, Jesus loved the sinner. Jesus cared for us in our need. Jesus served us at our lowest by becoming the servant of servants. This is the DNA of who we are and so Christians made a difference in this world by by caring for the beggar and the destitute, the widow and the orphan. Second, is this your relationship in the community? And I’m going to move really fast in these bless those who persecute, bless and do not curse them.
This is a verse of disarming those in opposition. The natural response for us is to retaliate, to persecute those who who persecute us. But but what Paul is saying in this passage is, look, it’s difficult to hate people that love you. You know, they might spew their hate. You smother them in love, because after a while they’re going to quit. They can’t stand they’re going to look like a disgusting person to other people and how they treat you because you’ve been nothing but compassionate back towards them. He goes on and says, Bless those who persecute. And he says, Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. So not only are we wanting to disarm the opposition in how we bless those who persecute, but we’re also discovering opportunity in this verse. We’re trying to find a way to connect with people in this world and the way that you want to do that in ministering for Christ is when people rejoicing, rejoice with them, which is different than society. Society is get jealous over that right, and destroy them and tear them down and tell them how you could do it better. But as Christians, we want to rejoice when people are rejoicing and when people are going through hardship, we want to weep with those who we want to meet them where they’re at. I find sometimes people say some strange things and sometimes awful things when people are in a place of mourning.
And can I just encourage you as followers of Christ that sometimes we just say too much when people are in mourning? Rather, what’s more important is simply your presence and a reminder that I love you being with them job’s friends. If you read the Book of Job when he was in his misery, Job was comforted by his friends for the first few weeks when they just sat with him, but is when they opened their mouth that they said stupid things. Just being with people and and weeping with them when they weep. It’s biblical, it’s beautiful. And it’s it’s connecting with them in that moment, discovering that opportunity. And then he goes on verse 16, live in harmony with one another. Don’t be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. And this now is talking about being approachable. Not only are you discovering a way to connect to people, but you also want to remain approachable in how you minister to people. And this idea of living in harmony is saying to us, Look, don’t look down on people, don’t be haughty above them, but associate with the lowly and don’t act like you’ve got it all figured out. Be be wise enough to realize that you don’t and to be able to be approachable enough that people can speak into your life. You need that sort of a humility to be able to ask the question, If you were me, what would you do differently? Hey, what about your life? Are you blind to that? You really need to be open to and what God desires to do in you and through you.
And so Paul’s giving us this opportunity to connect with community in order to make a difference in the last. Is this overcome evil? Overcome evil. And he says, repay no evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. And Paul saying, Here, you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes. That’s what he’s saying. Don’t don’t repay evil with evil, but give thought to what is honorable in the sight of God rather rather than retaliate, which is what human nature often desires to do. Respond. By giving thought to what is honorable in the sight of all being mindful. God, this situation is difficult. These people are hard. But God, what would bring you glory here. How can I represent you? Well. He says, if possible. So far as it depends on you live peaceable, peaceably with all. And Paul’s recognizing look, as we’re trying to be mindful of how to honor the Lord in this world. Sometimes it’s not always possible to keep the peace. But as much as it is possible with you, keep that that place of peace and peace doesn’t mean be a coward. Peace doesn’t mean tuck tail and run. Peace doesn’t mean sweep it under the rug. Jesus said be peacemakers, not peacekeepers. Peacemakers. Which means you pursue things that are difficult for the purpose of peace so that you can speak and love on people and their need in life.
He’s encouraging us in this passage to to live this sort of way and to be mindful of this, that evil wants to destroy this world. But God has called you to to be a light and to broaden that platform. So be mindful of how you walk in this world because you’re representing the Lord wherever you go. And just be be mindful of the way that you treated Christ and how Christ chose to respond to you. Don’t respond back to the people the way people have responded to you. Respond to people the way that Jesus responded to you. God demonstrated his love to you. And while you were a sinner, Christ died for you. Of possible so far as it depends on you live at peace with all people in showing them and showing them honor. And then he goes on and says, Beloved. Never avenge yourselves. But leave the leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written. Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord. Now, this is a beautiful passage because this says to you, whatever you’re frustrated about, whatever you’re mad about, whatever bitterness is just eating you up. Let it go. Let it go. And here’s here’s why you can let it go. Because what God wants to do is far better than anything you’re going to do in your strength anyway.
God’s wrath, I promise, is more powerful than your vengeance. And the truth be told, your vengeance. Your vengeance is limited in its scope. You don’t understand the full picture. God, who is a god of wrath against injustice. God has the whole picture. And God cares about you. And what God wants to do to the injustice that has happened to you. Is far greater than anything that you’re going to do with yourself. And if you believe in a God who is that big? You can let it go. Now, let me say, sometimes in life there are bad things that happen to us, and you may need to call some authorities to get involved. That’s your right as an American if someone has violated something against you. Right. But to carry the bitterness around. To think that you’re the executioner of the justice. Is something for us that’s becomes too much to bear. But he’s he’s encouraging us, reminding us of the the wrath of God being far greater. And for people who live in maybe a country where we don’t have the type of rights as America or the type of protection or the type of police care that may be involved or the judicial system, this verse becomes a very comforting verse for them to know that there is a God concerned for the life. And then he says this to the contrary. If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
And for so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head. It carries this idea when you read this verse, some people might think, Well, that’s it. Like I get to throw burning coals on someone, right? By being nice. That’s what I’m going to do. And I don’t think that’s what this passage is saying. So there’s a little bit of debate over interpretation of this passage. But let me let me give for you what I think this passage is saying. It’s not my burden to have to carry the justice of this world, but those things are in the hands of God. He’s far greater at it than me. I just need to trust and do what God has called me to do because I believe in a big enough God to handle those things. And so rather what I do in this passage reminds us if my enemy is hungry, feed him. If he’s thirsty, give him something to drink. And in so doing a heap those coals on his head. And the first century. It took a lot to build a fire. If your fire went out the first place that you would go to is your neighbor and you would ask them for some coals to put back in your fire, to stoke your fire, to get your fire burning again. When you would get those coals, you would put it in a bowl. You would take that bowl, you would carry it on your head.
When you would carry that head to your house, you had a decision to make. How long are you going to keep this hot burning coal in your head before you take it off? Right. It’s provoking you to make a decision. You don’t want that fire next to your face for very long. And so the decision is, what are you going to do with that? And so what he’s saying in this passage is when God’s people respond in a godly way to others, even if they’re hateful people, they’ve got to make a decision of what to do with you. How how can I hate that person back? They seem to be different. While the way that they’re living in this world and and the joy that they have in Christ and the rejoicing that they have and the genuine care for other people, they don’t know what to do with that because in their heart they’re trying to hate you, but you’re making it so hard. And so they’ve got to make a decision, leave the coal in their head and let it burn right. Heap the judgement or or use the coal that you gave them in order to bless their family. They they’ve got to decide to do with it. What are they going to do with you. That’s that’s what Paul is saying in this passage. And he goes on and says, don’t be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.
Do you know what doesn’t drive out evil? Evil. Hate will not destroy hate. Evil will not destroy evil. Only love does that. God’s people are called to be a light in darkness. The only way we can live this sort of calling. Is to be confident and secure in the identity that we have in Christ. When our lives are completely surrendered to him. We don’t need the affirmation of the world to find our value and meaning. It’s important to have encouragement. Yes. But what we ultimately have in Jesus makes all the difference in the world, so that no matter how the world responds, it’s not going to shock us. The system of the world is built on self. It follows a different path. But we who belong to Christ find a new identity in him. So let me let me close with this. George Mueller lived in the 1800s. Really? His life spanned almost all of the 1800s. He was born at the beginning of the 1800s. He died, I think, in 1895. But George Mueller, the beginning of his life, was not a godly life. George Mueller was was a well educated man. He attended church sometimes, but he was not a Christian. And one time some of his decisions that he made landed him in jail and he knew something needed to change. And so he he visited a moravian mission. A Moravians were some of the most remarkable people in church history.
They were the most missional minded people, I think, really to exist in church history. And when when he visited them, his life was changed forever because he found salvation in Christ. Eventually, George Mueller moved from Germany to to England and Bristol, England. He started an orphanage. During his lifetime, George Mueller ministered to over 10,000 orphans that stayed within his homes. I’ll show you a picture of that. And it says in the 1800s that some 8 million plus dollars passed through the hands of George Mueller. But when George Mueller died, his possessions totaled less than $1,000. George Mueller was one who believed if he trusted in in God, that God would supply all he needed to do what he called him to in this world. And because of that, God used him to make a difference. From a broken beginning. He became an inspiration. To believers. Can I tell you some of the some of the most impressive, inspiring Christians to me? Are the ones who’ve endured hardship. But still remain faithful. And honoring to the Lord in the way they treated others. And the fruit of that, if you get near them long enough to see the fruit of that, how how dark hearts are transformed in the goodness of God’s grace is inspiring to continue to follow the same path. Romans Chapter 12 Is that calling on my life and your life, too? The only way that happens is to find our hearts completely surrendered to the Lord and our identity secure in Him.