21st September 2023
Read (Romans 12v9-10)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
The Christian has been loved abundantly by the Lord and we are to love abundantly in response. We are happy when called to love the Lord, we are altogether a little bit less comfortable when we realise we are to love each other as well. Even so, as Paul unpacks our response to the Gospel, he stresses that our love is to be genuine (v9). In this age of "fake news" there can be no room for "fake love" in the Christian church. How can we recognise such fake love? This kind of love is a means to an end and it always seeks personal advantage.
Imagine John who shows favouritism to Sam as often as he possibly can. John couldn't care less about Sam, he merely strives to "keep him sweet" because Sam is an excellent plumber. Then there is Carla who maintains a "friendship" with Steph. Carla finds Steph quite dull but goes through the motions regardless because every August Steph allows Carla to use her Portstewart caravan free of charge for two weeks.
Would you like to be "loved" like this? I suspect not. The Apostle says that our love must be genuine. This kind of love is true and pure. It does not seek an advantage and it does not play games. We love our brothers and sisters truthfully as we have been loved by Christ.
In a similar fashion, we are to "abhor what is evil" and "hold fast to what is good." (v9b). Paul's teaching requires little in the way of explanation but allow me to offer a practical example. You meet a friend every fortnight for a Blue Cedar coffee and in an hour or so you put the world right. Gossip is shared, slanderous comments are made and time is spent assigning the worst possible motives to those you dislike. How would you describe such a coffee date? A bit of harmless fun or sinful and evil?
Brothers and sisters, we are to hate what is evil. That certainly means the evil found in this world but also the sinful evil we find in ourselves. Instead of excusing sin, we are to abhor it and strive by the ordinary means of grace to put it to death. In its place we deliberately place that which is good. Instead of division we strive for unity, instead of slander we offer prayer and instead of gossip we bathe in the Gospel. Flee from the rotten and run to the beautiful!
David was once inspired by the Holy Spirit to write "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" (Psalm 133v1) We would do well to meditate on such a verse and our own role in the unity of our local fellowship. Paul exhorts us to "love one another with brotherly affection" (v10a) with such a call being entirely radical in our selfish age. Those around us aren't pawns to be manoeuvred but fellow saints to be cherished. When they honour us with words and actions then we respond by outdoing them in honour (v10b). This doesn't mean we try to belittle our fellow Christians by making their efforts look small - quite the opposite. As we are loved and honoured, we seek to love and honour abundantly more in return. Love grows love and honour magnifies honour.
In a world where every "truth" is valid yet nothing can be trusted, the Gospel stands like a colossus. Christ is THE truth and He loved His people before they loved Him. Dear brothers and sisters, in response, may our love and actions be genuine.
Q50 What is required in the second commandment? The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his Word.