Romans 12:9-13

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

July 28, 1999


Paul has moved through his doctrinal section in Romans and now has moved on to the practical side of things.  Heís been telling the church in Rome how they are a "body", and like a body, they are each an individual part of it, with each part having a unique and different function. Itís when we all learn to do our "part", that the church is healthy.

We now move into a section where talks about our obligations to each other, both the things we ought to be doing as well as the attitudes we need to have with each other.

:9 Let love be without dissimulation.

love Ė agape Ė brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

I find it interesting that in 1Corinthians, Paul is addressing the same issues of the Body and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, only to stop and pause and talk about agape love. Here in Romans, Paul has also been talking about the Body and the Gifts, and now the next word he uses is agape.

dissimulation Ė anupokritos Ė unfeigned, undisguised, sincere. It means not having hupokrinomai Ė to make answer (speak) on the stage; to impersonate anyone, play a part; to simulate, feign, pretend


Donít be a fake in your love.

There are people who will be nice to you just to achieve a certain purpose.


A Mexican bandit made a specialty of crossing the Rio Grande from time to time and robbing banks in Texas. Finally, a reward was offered for his capture. An enterprising Texas Ranger decided to track him down. After a lengthy search, he traced the bandit to his favorite cantina, snuck up behind him, put his trusty six-shooter to the bandit's head, and said, "You're under arrest. Tell me where you hid the loot or I'll blow your brains out." But the bandit didn't speak English and the Ranger didn't speak Spanish! Fortunately, a bilingual lawyer was in the saloon and translated the Ranger's message. The terrified bandit blurted out, in Spanish, that the loot was buried under the oak tree in back of the cantina. "What did he say?" asked the Ranger. The lawyer answered, "He said, 'Get lost, you turkey. You wouldn't dare shoot me.'"

I would say that the Lawyer wasnít quite without hypocrisy. He wanted something out of the situation.

Godís desire is that we get to the place where we do not have phony masks on. This isnít always easy. I think there is a place for tact and patience.

I think that we need to be careful that we donít go around being mean and cruel to each other just for the sake of not being a hypocrite. Like when a person says to you, "Well what do you really think of me?" so you reply, "I hate your guts, youíre mean, ugly, and your mother wears army boots!" All because you donít want to be a hypocrite.

But this isnít what Paul is saying anyway. Paul isnít saying, "Donít be a phony when you show your feelings", heís saying "Donít be a phony when you love others".

:9 Abhor that which is evil;

abhor Ė apostugeo Ė to dislike, abhor, have a horror of

evil Ė poneros Ė full of labours, annoyances, hardships; bad, of a bad nature or condition ; in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad. Mischief-making, delighting in injury, doing evil to others, dangerous, destructive.

I find it interesting that Paul doesnít say, "Abhor the person who is evil", but "Abhor that which is evil".

Itís kind of the concept of hating the sin but loving the sinner.

Solomon wrote,

(Prov 8:13 NLT) All who fear the LORD will hate evil. That is why I hate pride, arrogance, corruption, and perverted speech.

:9 cleave to that which is good.

cleave Ė kollao Ė to glue, to glue together, cement, fasten together; to join or fasten firmly together; to join one's self to, cleave to

good Ė agathos Ė of good constitution or nature; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy; excellent, distinguished; upright, honourable

I know that life isnít always as easy as putting things into two categories, "Evil" and "Good". But when we see something "good", we need to hold on tight.

:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;

kindly affectioned Ė philostorgos (phileo, "affection" + storge, "family love") Ė the mutual love of parents and children and wives and husbands; loving affection, prone to love, loving tenderly; chiefly of the reciprocal tenderness of parents and children

Think of the tender kind of affection that goes on between parents and their children, not just what a parent shows for a child, but even what a child returns to the parent.

Our affection shouldnít be painful to each other.


Wanna Box

One man writes, "Each day when I would come home from work I would drop to my knees and ask my 4 year old son if he wanted to box.I wanted him to learn how to protect himself. We would spar around for a few minutes before supper. One day my wife and I took our son to get new shoes. The shoe salesman was friendly and allowed my son to try on several pairs of shoes before we decided on a particular pair that he liked. We asked if he wanted to wear them home and he replied, "yes". The salesman, who was kneeling on the floor in front of our son, held the old shoes in his hands and asked, "do you want a box?" Our son stood up and punched him right on the nose. After grabbing our son we had to spend the next several minutes explaining WHY this happened. Luckilly, our salesman was the father of a 4 year old."

brotherly love Ė philadelphia Ė love of brothers or sisters, brotherly love; in the NT the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren

I wonder if Paul isnít saying this to make sure that we keep the kind affection towards each other to be pure. I donít know about you, but being raised with a bunch of sisters, the thought of kissing my sister has never been an impure kind of thing with me. Think of that girl that told you, "I love you like a brother". What was she telling you? She was telling you that there was nothing in the relationship other than just being friends.

And thatís the way it ought to be in church with each other.


Purity in church relationships.

There ought to be a sense of belonging, being cared for, hugs and all that. But it should be kept pure.

I know some churches discourage guys and gals from even hugging, and Iím not at all sure thatís not bad. I think itís okay to do the "side-hug", or perhaps let your shoulders touch, but I get concerned when someone wants to do a full body hug with someone of the opposite sex.

Watch for predators.

Though I would love to say that the church is a place where you can feel safe from people who will take advantage of you, I think that would be naïve of me to say that itís true.

We live in a world thatís filled with garbage. There are people who fill their minds with pornographic images and thoughts 24 hours a day. Godís desire is that we learn to get that stuff out of our minds and our hearts. But not everyone is at that place yet.

I think itís important that we are a little cautious in our relationships in church. I think we kind of need to keep our eyes open.

At the same time, we need to be careful that our actions donít give people the wrong impression either. Iíve known people who were big "huggers", and I donít think they necessarily had evil intentions, but they sure made some others feel uncomfortable. Just be careful.

:10 in honour preferring one another;

honour Ė time Ė a valuing by which the price is fixed; honour which belongs or is shown to one

preferring Ė proegeomai Ė to go before and show the way as a guide. This is the only time in the New Testament where this word is used.

One way of translating this could be, "leading the way in showing the honor that is due", another way could be, "with honor, show the way to one another".

Iím not real clear on this, but there are two elements in this exhortation:

1) Honor Ė giving value to each other, considering each other to be of high value.

2) "preferring" Ė possibly the idea of helping each other out.

If a person hired to be a guide through a wilderness gives value to his clients, heís going to be careful to get them through.

I think there are going to be times when weíve been through a situation that someone is currently going through. If you value that person, youíre going to help them get through it.

:11 Not slothful in business;

business Ė spoude Ė haste, with haste; earnestness, diligence; earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything; to give all diligence, interest one's self most earnestly

slothful Ė okneros Ė sluggish, slothful, backward

We could say it this way, "Donít be poky about things you ought to be speedy about".

Thereís a time to be slow and cautious and wait on the Lord. Thereís a time to get moving.


Get moving.

When Moses had led the people out of Egypt after that first Passover, the Lord led the people up to the edge of the Red Sea, with the Egyptians closing in fast behind them. Was it a time to pray, or a time to move?

(Exo 14:15 NASB) Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.

:11 fervent in spirit;

fervent Ė zeo Ė to boil, be hot.

spirit Ė pneuma Ėthe third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit; the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated; a spirit, the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of any one.

It could be talking about fervency in the Holy Spirit, or in my human spirit.

This phrase is found one other place, used of Apollos:

Acts 18:25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

Itís interesting that itís used here of Apollos, because I have the distinct impression that Apollos at this point in his ministry did not know about the Holy Spirit. At least the disciples he left behind in Ephesus didnít understand (Acts 19).

:11 serving the Lord;

serving Ė douleuo Ė be a slave, serve, do service; metaph. to obey, submit to

:12 Rejoicing in hope;

hope Ė elpis Ė expectation of evil, fear; expectation of good, hope; in the Christian sense joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation

rejoicing Ė chairo Ė to rejoice, be glad


Find your joy in the promise of what God WILL do in the future.

Thatís our "hope".

We need to take time to think about what kinds of things God is doing for us. It should result in rejoicing.

(1 Pet 1:6-9 KJV) Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: {7} That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: {8} Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: {9} Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

If we keep our eyes on our current problems, we get bummed. If we keep looking to what God will do, we can get excited:

(2 Cor 4:15-18 NLT) All of these things are for your benefit. And as God's grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. {16} That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. {17} For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! {18} So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

:12 patient in tribulation;

tribulation Ė thlipsis Ė a pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

patient Ė hupomeno Ė to remain, literally to "remain under"; to tarry behind; to remain i.e. abide, not recede or flee; to endure, bear bravely and calmly: ill treatments

There is another word often translated "patience", makrothumia. That is a kind of patience with difficult people, literally a "long-burning". But hupomeno refers more to circumstances than it does people.


Donít quit under pressure.

Not everyone handles pressure well.


A young Scotsman left home and moved to New York. After about a week, he had his own apartment. In a few weeks, his parents phoned to find out how he was doing. "What are your neighbors like?" his mother asked. "They're a bit strange actually," he told his mum. "On one side, there's a man who keeps banging his head against the wall, and on the other side, there's a woman who just cries and moans." "I'd keep to myself if I were you," advised his mother. "Oh, I do," the son said. "I just stay in my room all day and play my bag pipes."

God wants you to stick out your rough problems. Itís when we learn to stick it out to the end that we often see the greatest growth in our lives. There are plenty of times when I want to just quit and run. I know what itís like.


Itís kind of like getting on the latest roller coaster. A few months ago we went to Knottís and waited an hour and a half in line to ride the new "GhostRider". It was horrible. Iíve never ridden on a faster, more scarier roller coaster. I thought I was going to die. I usually like to ride roller coasters with my hands up in the air. And on this ride, a bunch of us started off with our hands raised as the cars climbed up the huge first hill. As soon as we went over the hill, every single hand went down and everybody was clinging on for dear life.

But as scared as I was, I knew I couldnít get off the ride. Getting off in the middle of GhostRider would be far more dangerous than the ride itself could ever be.

:12 continuing instant in prayer;

prayer Ė proseuche Ė prayer addressed to God. Some of the other words that are translated "prayer" can be used to refer to requests made of other people, but this word speaks of those "requests" that are made specifically to God.

continuing instant Ė proskartereo Ė to adhere to one, be his adherent, to be devoted or constant to one; to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing; to continue all the time in a place; to persevere and not to faint; to show one's self courageous for; to be in constant readiness for one, wait on constantly


Keep praying.

Keep your prayers going to God. We donít always need to be asking people for things. We do always need to be asking God.

:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints;

necessity Ė chreia Ė necessity, need

saints Ė hagios Ė most holy thing, a saint. In the New Testament, this term isnít used for someone who lives on a stained-glass window. It is used for all Christians. We are all "saints" because when we come to trust in Jesus, itís like He puts a sticker on us that says, "Everybody keep your hands off this one, they belong to me!". Thatís one of the ideas of "holiness", or being a "saint", that you are set aside for a special purpose, set aside for Godís purpose.

distributing Ė koinoneo Ė to come into communion or fellowship with, to become a sharer, be made a partner; to enter into fellowship, join one's self to an associate, make one's self a sharer or partner.

Part of this involves an actual, practical ministry that Paul was currently involved with while he was writing to the Romans.

It was around 56 AD, Paul had just escaped with his life after the riot in Ephesus (Acts 19), and probably wrote the letter to the Romans while staying in Philippi (somewhere around Acts 20:1). At this time, Paul had been in the process of trying to stir up the Gentile churches in Asia and Greece to take up an offering to help out the church in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem church was caught in the middle of a famine, and was in great physical need. Itís kind of like the ministry that Samaritanís Purse finds itself in when some war or disaster strikes a particular nation, and they become a funnel for the American churchís relief funds.


Help with needs.

Two ideas are present here.

1) We need to be careful to recognize needs.

Sometimes we just donít care what is going on with other people and we ought to be a little more aware of what is going on around us.

Sometimes we become magnets for everyone with a "need". The problem is, not all "needs" are real "needs".

My children often need me to get them something to drink from the refrigerator. They will say to me, "Daddy, I need some more milk". But what they really need is to learn to get up and get their own milk, and not have Daddy be their slave. They need to learn to take care of themselves.

Be wise in what is a need and what isnít.

2) Help with real needs.

We need to be careful when we are aware of a need, and we can do something about it, that we should respond.

:13 given to hospitality.

hospitality Ė philoxenia Ė love to strangers, hospitality

given to Ė dioko Ė to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away; without the idea of hostility, to run after, follow after someone; to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavour to acquire

In the ancient world, things worked differently than they do today. If you went on a trip across country, there generally werenít places like Motel 6 to spend the night at. Typically what youíd do is hang out at the town square and then people from town would run into you and invite you to their house to spend the evening. This was called "hospitality", the "love of strangers".


Pursue hospitality

Hospitality in the New Testament isnít really about throwing a good party.

Itís about welcoming strangers. Itís about reaching out to new people at church.

Sometimes we can get kind of comfortable with our own particular set of "friends" at church. We have the same group of people we hang out with, go out to eat with, etc.

But Godís desire is that weíre always open to reaching out and inviting someone new along for the ride.

Thatís hospitality.