Romans 12:9-12

Thursday Evening Bible Study

February 19, 2009


Paul has moved through his doctrinal section in Romans and now has moved on to the practical side of things. He’s 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. It’s when we all learn to do our “part”, that the church is healthy.

Paul now moves on to talk about what it really looks like to be a real Christian.

What does a real Christian look like?

:9 Let love be without hypocrisy.

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.

loveagape – affection, good will, love, benevolence; love based on a choice to value another person. Love that is demonstrated by action.

without hypocrisyanupokritos (“not” + “play acting”) – unfeigned, undisguised, sincere

In ancient Greece, the actors on stage in a play were called “hupocrites”, they were pretending to be someone else.


Don’t fake 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 wasn’t quite without hypocrisy. He wanted something out of the situation.
There are people in the Bible who have pretty decent “fakers”
Joab had lost his job as head general to a fellow named Amasa.

(2 Sam 20:9-10 NKJV) Then Joab said to Amasa, "Are you in health, my brother?" And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. {10} But Amasa did not notice the sword that was in Joab's hand. And he struck him with it in the stomach, and his entrails poured out on the ground; and he did not strike him again. Thus he died. Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri.

One of the most well known fakers was a fellow named Judas.

When Mary poured out a lot of expensive perfume on Jesus, Judas got upset.

(John 12:4-6 NKJV) Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said, {5} "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" {6} This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

The ultimate “fake” love was in the Garden of Gethsemane when Judas betrayed Jesus with a “kiss”

The opposite of “hypocrisy” is “sincerity
Our English word comes from the Latin words “without” (sin) and “wax” (cere).  The word was used to describe clay pots that were not broken.  If a clay pot developed a crack while it saw in the pot shop, a merchant might try and cover up the pot with a pasted made out of wax.  It would be hard to tell if the pot was cracked or not.  But if you took the pot home and started cooking your soup in it, the heat would melt the wax and you’d find out about the crack.
The merchant at the pot shop would be asked, “Is this pot “sin-cere”?  Does it have wax?

Or, is it a phony?

God wants our love to be the real thing.  No fakes.
(1 John 3:18 NKJV)  My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

:9 Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

Abhorapostugeo (“from” + “detestable”) – to dislike, abhor, have a horror of

evilponeros – bad; evil, wicked

Clingkollao – to glue, to glue together, cement, to join one’s self to, cleave to

I found it interesting that this word most often refers to attaching to a person:

Ac 9:26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.

goodagathos –good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful; excellent, distinguished; honorable

I know that life isn’t always as easy as putting things into two categories, “Evil” and “Good”. But when we see something “good”, we need to hold on tight.  When we see that something is “evil”, we ought to want to get as far away as possible.

We can see this applied to extreme things – perhaps in a choice of what movie you’re going to see in the theater.

Sometimes it’s not so extreme.  Sometimes the same person might say something that’s right and something that’s wrong.

Chew the chicken, spit out the bones.

There are going to be times when I might say something that’s a little off.  Don’t toss me out your window because I make one mistake.
Learn to stay away from what’s wrong and cling to what’s good.

(1 Th 5:21-22 NKJV) Test all things; hold fast what is good. {22} Abstain from every form of evil.

:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love,

The next three verses have a series of phrases that are all similar in structure in the Greek. Our English translation is a little inconsistent in translating what is consistently the same in each phrase.

The structure of each phrase is – “in ___ be ___”

This first phrase would be, “In brotherly love toward one another, be kindly affectionate”

The thing you can ask yourself is, “In each type of setting, how are you?”

In verse 10 –

What does your “brotherly love” look like?
What does your “honoring” look like?

In verse 11 –

What does your “diligence” look like?
What does your “spirit” look like?
What does your attitude toward the Lord look like?

In verse 12 –

What does your thoughts toward the future look like (hope)?
What are you like when you are in tribulation?
What are you like in prayer?

In your …

brotherly lovephiladelphia (“love” + “brother”) – love of brothers or sisters

towards one another … how do you act?

Be kindly affectionatephilostorgos (“love” + “family love”) – the mutual love of parents and children and wives and husbands


A healthy family

Our affection shouldn’t 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.”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “It was like kissing my sister…”?
I have three sisters.  Though I might put a peck on one of their cheeks, I’d have a hard time thinking of my sisters in an impure way.
Our love for each other in the church ought to have that same kind of purity and simplicity.
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 it’s true.
We live in a world that’s filled with garbage. There are people who fill their minds with pornographic images and thoughts 24 hours a day. God’s 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 it’s important that we are a little cautious in our relationships in church. I think we kind of need to keep our eyes open.
Be careful that your actions don’t give people the wrong impression. I’ve known people who were big “huggers”, and I don’t think they necessarily had evil intentions, but they sure made some others feel uncomfortable. Just be careful.

:10 in honor giving preference to one another;

In your …

honortime – a valuing by which the price is fixed

how do you act?

giving preferenceproegeomai (“before” + “to lead”) – to go before and show the way; to prefer, to esteem more highly

A form of the word is used in:

(Phil 2:3-4 NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. {4} Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

How do you display honor to others?

You treat them as being higher than yourself. You treat their needs as being of more importance to you than your own.

:11 not lagging in diligence,

In your …

diligencespoude – haste; earnestness, diligence

An example of this word is used in connection to how quickly we “repent” when confronted about our sin:

(2 Cor 7:11 NKJV) For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

how do you act?

laggingokneros – sluggish, slothful, backward

from okneo – to feel loath, to be slow; to delay, hesitate


Get moving

Just how “quick” are you to do the things you need to do?
We could say it this way, “Don’t be poky about things you ought to be speedy about”.
There’s a time to be slow and cautious and wait on the Lord. There’s a time to 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,

In your spirit, just how are you?

ferventzeo – to boil with heat, be hot; zeal for what is good

The same phrase is used to describe a guy named Apollos:

Ac 18:25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.

Apollos was a passionate man.

:11 serving the Lord;

You could follow the pattern in this phrase as well.

“In the Lord, how are you?”

If Jesus really, really is your “Lord”, then how should you respond?

(Mat 21:28-32 NKJV) "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' {29} "He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. {30} "Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go. {31} "Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to Him, "The first." …

A “Lord” is someone you are supposed to obey.

servingdouleuo – to be a slave, serve, do service

(Luke 6:46 NKJV) "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?

(Mat 7:21 NKJV)  "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

Is He your “Lord”?

:12 rejoicing in hope,

In your …

hopeelpis – expectation of evil, fear; expectation of good, hope

Hope has to do with your thoughts of the future, your expectations.

We think of hope as being a good thing because as Christians we have a good future.

What your thoughts of the future?

rejoicingchairo – to rejoice, be glad; to rejoice exceedingly


What is your future like?

Paul says we should be…
(Titus 2:13 NKJV) looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
God gives us a clue as to what His plans are for us through Jeremiah:
(Jer 29:11 NKJV)  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
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,

In your …

tribulationthlipsis – a pressing, pressing together, pressure;

How are you?

patienthupomeno – to remain; not recede or flee

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.


Don’t 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. It’s 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 it’s like.

It’s kind of like getting on the latest roller coaster. A few years ago we went to Knott’s and waited an hour and a half in line to ride the new “GhostRider” rollercoaster. It was horrible. I’ve 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 couldn’t get off the ride. Getting off in the middle of GhostRider would be far more dangerous than the ride itself could ever be.

It’s under the pressure that the real work gets done in my life.
(1 Pet 1:6-7 NKJV)  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, {7} that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Gold is refined in the fire.  It is melted down into a liquid state.  As the heat keeps the metal liquid, the impurities (dross) come to the surface.  The goldsmith carefully skims off the dross from the liquid gold.

They say a goldsmith knows when to quit when he can see his own reflection in the gold.

That’s what God is doing with us.

Don’t quit under the affliction.  Stick it out.  Let God work.

:12 continuing steadfastly in prayer;

How are you when it comes to …

prayerproseuche – prayer addressed to God

continuing steadfastlyproskartereo – 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 don’t always need to be asking people for things. We do always need to be asking God.
Prayer is our communication with God.
Prayer is one of the ways that God uses to mold us.
I’m in a tough situation and so I learn to pray about it.  Several times a day I learn to pray about it.
(Phil 4:6-7 NKJV)  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; {7} and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I learn as I pray correctly to find the peace of God in my difficulty as I learn to place the problem in God’s hands.

Sometimes as I pray I find out that the things that I want are all wrong.

I keep praying that God would give me a million dollars.  And the more I pray with sincerity toward God, I begin to be ashamed at the thing that I’m praying for.

God begins to change my heart in prayer, turning me toward the right thing to pray.

How am I in prayer?
I need to be “continuing” in it.