Romans 12:13-15

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

August 4, 1999

Introduction

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.

: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.

Lesson

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".

Lesson

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.

Illustration

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Susan Roman writes, "One afternoon, I was in the back yard hanging the laundry when an old, tired-looking dog wandered into the yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home. But when I walked into the house, he followed me, sauntered down the hall and fell asleep in a corner. An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out. The next day he was back. He resumed his position in the hallway and slept for an hour. This continued for several weeks. Curious, I pinned a note to his collar: "Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap." The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar: "He lives in a home with ten children - heís trying to catch up on his sleep.""

By Susan F. Roman, from Chicken Soup for the Pet Loverís Soul , Copyright 1998 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Marty Becker and Carol Kline

Are there any old "tired dogs" around you that need a place to hang out?

:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

bless Ė eulogeo ("good" eu + "speaking" logeo) Ė to praise, celebrate with praises; to invoke blessings; to ask God's blessing on a thing.

curse Ė kataraomai Ė to curse, doom, imprecate evil upon

persecute Ė dioko Ė to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away; in any way whatever to harass, trouble, molest one; to persecute

There are lots of various levels of persecution.

It might be as harsh as an outright threat to your life or safety. It may be as "simple" as a threat to your emotional wellbeing.

Lesson

Handling persecution

God wants us to return persecution with "blessing", "good words".

Stephenís example:

Stephen was one of the church busboys, one of the first seven "deacons" of the early church. God began to use Stephen mightily and when the Jewish leaders became upset with Stephen, he was put on trial, where he gave a lengthy defense of himself, ending with Ö

Acts 7:51-60 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. {52} Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: {53} Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. {54} When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. {55} But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, {56} And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. {57} Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, {58} And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. {59} And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. {60} And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Calling them "stiffnecked" seems hardly a "blessing". But it was the truth.

Giving a blessing doesnít mean we have to stop telling the truth. It doesnít mean that we need to stop confronting people of the important issues.

But we also need to be careful that we donít mix a "curse" into the truth. Stephen didnít condemn them to hell for their being stiffnecked, instead he prayed a blessing, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge".

:15 Rejoice Ö weep with them that weep.

rejoice Ė chairo Ė to rejoice, be glad

weep Ė klaio Ė to mourn, weep, lament; weeping as the sign of pain and grief

Lesson

Sympathize with others

Are you aware of what others around you are going through? Are you learning to be happy when theyíre happy? Are you learning to be compassionate and weep when they weep?

We need to be sensitive to those around us and respond accordingly.

Illustration

David and the death of Absalom.

Toward the end of Davidís reign as king, one of his sons, Absalom, tried to overthrow his father. Absalom had sweet talked the people of Israel into thinking that he was a great guy and that David didnít care about them. As a result, David had to flee from Jerusalem for his life. As he regrouped, a battle followed pitting Davidís army against Absalomís army. David gave strict instructions that no one was to kill Absalom because he was Davidís son. The battle wore on, and when Absalom was killed, the war was over and Davidís men had won. We pick up the story at the point where David had found out of his victory, and the news of Absalomís death:

(2 Sam 18:33 Ė 29:7) And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! {1} And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom. {2} And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son. {3} And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle. {4} But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! {5} And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines; {6} In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well. {7} Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants: for I swear by the LORD, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.

David was greatly grieved, but he also was ignoring the fact that his people had fought for him and had won. His weeping was making the people wonder why they had even bothered fighting for David.

Lesson

Get your eyes off yourself

I know that sometimes we can hide from our problems by getting involved in everyone elseís problems. Iím not talking about that. Iím not advocating running from your problems.

But sometimes we are so caught up with our own problems that we become useless to God. Weíll even tell ourselves things like, "I have so many problems that God could never use me". But the truth is that God uses people with tons of problems ALL THE TIME!

Note: The exhortation isnít "Get people to weep with you when youíre sad". It is that we are to go out and look at the needs around us and minister to them.

A Note to those of you who often minister to others:

There are going to be times when you need to let others weep with you. Or rejoice with you. You canít be the hero all the time. I am concerned that we donít create such a mindset in our church that we have the "ministers" and the "ministrees". We all are ministers. We are all in need of ministry.