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Thursday, September 21st, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Romans 12

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-3

  1. Intro:
    1. Illustration: I love the speech in Braveheart by William Wallace(Mel Gibson) in which he rallies the men of Scotland to fight against England’s overpowering army.
      1. Wallace: I AM William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What would you do without freedom? Will you fight? Veteran soldier: Fight? Against that? No, we will run; and we will live.Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you'll live -- at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!!!Wallace and Soldiers chant: Alba gu bra! (Scotland forever!)
      2. Here Paul stands before believers of all generations as he speaks to his troops who were about to go into battle. Why do I say that?
        1. See, the word beseech in vs.1. In classical Gk. It meant “exhorting troops who were about to go into battle.”
          1. ​​​​​​​Beseech is a strong “urging”.
          2. It’s more than an idea…it is essential to the Christian life!
    2. So far if the book of Romans were a cross-word puzzle then ch.’s 1-11 have been helping us to fill in the Down side, or the vertical (our relationship with God). Now in ch’s 12-16 we get to fill in the horizontal blanks (our relationship with one another & how we interact with our world).
      1. We now fill in the blanks of our practical outworking of our faith like: how to see with God’s eyes; how to love with His heart; how to speak with His lips; how to serve with His hands & feet. (Charles Swindoll, Romans 12-16, pg.2)
    3. Title: What you believe must determine how you behave!
      1. ​​​​​​​Quality of life” is often discussed when someone has a terminal disease & they are weighing their medical options.
        1. But I think it needs to be discussed in the spiritual realm also.
        2. Paul will now show what Quality of life should characterize, for those who believe in the gospel, as set out in the last 11 ch’s.
      2. What you believe must determine how you behave!
        1. Slide#7 Here is where our religious Rubber meets the rough Road!
        2. Wait, what happens when the rubber really does meet the road?
          1. There’s Traction & Forward Movement! (not just spinning our wheels)
    4. Overview of the rest of Romans: It’s about Relationships!
      1. [Today] Our relationship with The Lord (vs.1,2); Our relationship with Ourselves (vs.3); [Next] Our relationship w/The Church(vs.4-16); Our relationship w/Our Enemies (17-21)
      2. Then, we’ll look at our relationship with Our Government in ch.13. And lastly, our relationship with Believers who disagree w/you ch.’s 14,15.
    5. As we read these 3 verses listen to Paul’s Triple-Heart-Check!
      1. Is your life Consecrated/set apart to God?
      2. Are you allowing God to Transform you?
      3. Are you Evaluating yourself accurately to know how you can best serve others?
        1. Read vs.1-3.
    6. Outline: Consecration, Transformation, & Evaluation.
    1. ​​​​​​​Present – is a technical term for presenting a sacrifice, literally meaning “to place beside” for any purpose. (LKGNT)
    2. Present your bodies – characterized by conscience, intelligent, consecrated devotion to the service of God. (LKGNT)
      1. William Booth said, I will tell you the secret: God has had all that there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, even with greater opportunities, but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart and caught a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with me and them, on that day I made up my mind that God should have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army, it is because God has had all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.
    3. Living sacrifice – We usually think of sacrifices as something that is dead.
      1. We’re dead in the sense that we no longer live for ourselves, but we’re alive in that we now live for God.
      2. Many will boast, they’d die for Christ...but what He wants to know is Will you live for Him?
      3. What is the problem with living sacrifices? (they keep crawling off the altar)
        1. Don’t be defeated if you find yourself “off the altar” saint.
        2. Consecration is a process. It takes daily, even hourly, commitment to live for God.
        3. Don’t ask, “Have I presented myself”, but “am I presenting myself?”
      4. It’s daily laying aside our own desires to follow Him!
    4. Holy – or consecrated, or set apart, or living a “reserved for God” life!
      1. Maybe it can be described when we take a blank sheet of paper & sign our name at the bottom of it, and then let God fill it in as He will.
      2. It’s what Oswald Chambers called, “giving up my right to myself.”
      3. Listen to the seriousness of consecration…
        1. OT - Numb.3:11-13 And the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me, for all the firstborn males are mine. On the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, I set apart for myself all the firstborn in Israel, both of people and of animals. They are mine; I am the Lord.”
        2. NT - 1 Pet.2:9 you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
    5. Reasonable service – or literally, rational worship!
      1. It has been said of us Americans that we have three idols: Size, Noise, & Speed!
      2. Worship runs in the opposite direction of these 3: It reminds us of our littleness. It reminds us to be still & know He is God. It reminds us we need to wait upon the Lord
    1. ​​​​​​​Avoid Worldly Contamination & Achieve Godly Transformation.
    2. Conformed – to be formed or molded.
      1. To this world/age – This age cannot & must not serve as a model for Christian living!
        1. Our world is presently screaming:
          1. Conformity - Don’t claim Christ is the Only way!
          2. Tolerance - Why are those who fight for Tolerance, so intolerant to those who don’t share their view? - Just ask Dan Cathy, Chick-Fil-a’s president, saying that his company supports "the biblical definition of the family unit".
          3. Truth is not Absolute but subjective - Simply ask those who say, “There is no such thing as absolutes!” If they are absolutely sure?
          4. Same-sex Marriage Partners; All religions are the same; Don’t vote your morals; etc.
      2. “Nothing can kill our church faster than if it becomes conformed to this world.”
        1. We are a group “of individuals”. So yes, this is speaking specifically of you!
        2. Will one person conformed to the world have an affect on our church?
          1. Will one diseased fish affect the whole tank?
    3. Transformed – in your innermost nature. (LKGNT)
      1. D.L.Moody used to say, The Scriptures were not given for our information, but for our transformation.
      2. Pressed cookies are conformed; butterflies are transformed.
      3. J.B. Phillips Translation says, Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.
        1. ​​​​​​​Hey CM, the world is looking at our lives to see a difference…Are they seeing one?
          1. Dare to be different!
      4. So how are we transformed then? It is the Spirit of God that transforms our life by renewing our mind.
        1. 2 Cor.3:18 (NIV) And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
      5. So, be released from the control of this world around you, & come to know what God has in mind for you!
        1. It’s living a life that is committed to excellence. It’s living above the level of mediocrity. It’s living unshackled lives. It’s Living Unchained!
    4. Acceptable – Sacrifices offered to God are not enough in themselves.
      1. The offerings must be acceptable to Him.
  4. EVALUATION! (3)
    1. ​​​​​​​Now that you’ve Avoided Worldly Contamination, Achieved Godly Transformation, now Assess a Proper Evaluation.
    2. Most of us lack an honest assessment of ourselves.
      1. We constantly need to Keep a check on pride!
      2. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Illustration: On a visit to the Beethoven museum in Bonn, a young American student became fascinated by the piano on which Beethoven had composed some of his greatest works. She asked the museum guard if she could play a few bars on it; she accompanied the request with a lavish tip, and the guard agreed. The girl went to the piano and tinkled out the opening of the Moonlight Sonata. As she was leaving she said to the guard, “I suppose all the great pianists who come here want to play on that piano.” The guard shook his head. “Padarewski [the famed Polish pianist] was here a few years ago and he said he wasn’t worthy to touch it.”
    3. Think soberly – The metaphor suggests intoxication.
      1. They were in danger of becoming “egoholics!”
        1. A man who had a high opinion of himself stepped on a coin-operated scale that dispensed a card, giving his weight and comments about his personality. After reading the card, he handed it to his wife and said, “Here, look at this!” She took it and read aloud, “You are dynamic, a born leader, handsome, and much admired by women for your personality.” Giving it a second look, she added, “Hmmm, I see it’s got your weight wrong too!”
      2. Don’t think more highly of yourself, or less highly, just have a proper estimate of who you are.
      3. The balance? We are neither “Captain Indispensable”, nor “wormy the worthless”!
      4. Interesting, “accepting ourselves precedes giving ourselves!”
        1. We have to know & accept our abilities & our limitations!
      5. Illustration: Hudson Taylor was scheduled to speak at a large Presbyterian church in Melbourne, Australia. The moderator of the service introduced the missionary in eloquent and glowing terms. He told the large congregation all that Taylor had accomplished in China, and then presented him as “our illustrious guest.” Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying, “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.”
    4. What you believe must determine how you behave!
    5. End: We started in the beginning with a quote from Braveheart. Another great line from a different movie was in Gladiators, by Maximus (Russel Crowe) who said, “What we do in life echoes in eternity!”
      1. Do you believe that Christian? “What we do in life echoes in eternity!”

Verses 4-13

  1. Intro:
    1. Title: Love’s Many Faces!
    2. Overview: 2 Weeks ago regarding vs.1-3 our Title was What you believe must determine how you behave!
    3. [2 weeks ago] Our relationship with The Lord(vs.1,2); Our relationship with Ourselves(vs.3); [Today] Our relationship w/The Church(4-13); [Next Week] Our relationship w/Our Enemies (14-21)
    4. Outline: Unity in Diversity(4,5); Gifts Many Facets(6-8); Love’s Many Faces(9-13).
    1. What would happen if one or more parts of your body stopped functioning - or worse, began to perform functions they weren’t designed to do?
      1. Your feet all of a sudden say, “I’m driving”!
      2. What if your hair reversed itself(w/some I see it has!) No, I mean started growing inward?
      3. What body-part would trade w/the armpit?
      4. What if your bellybutton decided it wanted to do the breathing?
    2. (4) You are part of the body of Christ w/a ministry to fulfill, so do your part lovingly & joyfully. (Warren Wiersbe)
      1. It’s all about Unity in Diversity!
      2. The Christian Faith is essentially a corporate experience.
    3. Illustration: Rivers gain more attention than the little streams that create them. You can name the great rivers of the world but you cannot name their tributaries. However, without the tributaries there would be no river. It must be remembered, too, that the smaller streams, while less well known, are purer and are found on a higher elevation.
    1. Spiritual gifts are abilities or powers which the Spirit of God bestows upon all believers to equip them for service.” (Shepherds Notes, Romans, pg.72.)
      1. These gifts are an important part of the gospel of grace.
      2. We are saved by grace; We grow by grace; We are endowed by grace.
        1. Salvation - growth - service! [an experience of God’s grace from beginning to end]
    2. Remember, Accepting ourselves precedes Giving ourselves. (see vs.3)
      1. Its that painful self-discovery where we accept both our abilities & limitations.
      2. Then & only then, can God use our service.
    3. (6-8) Paul lists 7 gifts here, but he seems less interested in giving us an extensive list, but instead urges us to exercise the ones we have! (Everett Harrison, Romans, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol.10, pg.130.)
      1. Prophecy - Communication of revealed truth that builds up believers.
        1. Natalie Bither gave to Cindy before our trip, Is.61:3,10 The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness...For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.
        2. And Ps.148 & 149 which is all about Praise.
      2. Ministry - Practical service to help others.
        1. Catholic “orphanage”, Missionnaires de la Charite, for children who are sick. Explain holding children(pee all over you). With 1 I drew pictures with. One beat on me the whole time.
          1. Went to the hospital later only to meet John, who had no clue where we just came from. Who said, “I grew up in an orphanage,American Christians would come & hold us & show us affection, something we didn’t know. I was saved because of that love!”
      3. Teaching - To provide guidance & moral instructions.
        1. Women’s Teaching at Conference.
      4. Exhorting - Encouraging, comforting, & exhorting others.
        1. Late 1 night I sat on the porch w/a YWAM team member who was staying w/us. Philipson’s (a Haitian himself) encouragement about ministering to these ladies who live such a hard life. (after session, the Macarena, the Italian dance song came on)
      5. Giving liberally - Cheerfully contributing to the needs of others. [Open-handed & open-hearted]
        1. Lady’s son died(saved 1 month, 1st women’s conf), motorcycle accident, hit & run. Lady’s at Conf passed around hat, collected 600(h) about $73. Our team collected $170. We brought it to her.
      6. Mercy - Helpful activities such as feeding the hungry, caring of the sick & aging. (Shepherds Notes, Romans, pg.73.)
        1. (I didn't have a picture of Maria) Maria in the hospital (83 yrs old, prob weighed 70 lbs., a deacon, white long sleeve dress soiled w/blood down rt arm. Prayer for, motioned to sit up...to urinate)
      7. Lead w/diligence - Service carried out for the benefit of others. (That’s Marie!)
    4. If these gifts are functioning properly the church will be: genuinely spiritual (controlled by the Spirit so that we minister to His people); spontaneous (serving from the heart rather than from a sense of legislated duty); sacrificial (generously sharing time, money, energy, & talent).
  4. LOVE’S MANY FACES! (10-13)
    1. ​​​​​​​Nowhere in Paul’s writings do we find a more concise collection of ethical injunctions.
      1. ​​​​​​​Some have love...but their trouble is not expressing it. [but then, is it really love?]
        1. The father who loves his son, but can’t bring himself to tell him.
        2. The daughter who loved her controlling mom, but was too afraid to share the gospel with her,...even as she lay on her death bed.
          1. Oh, the consequences of unexpressed love.
      2. Paul makes it clear that Christian love always leads to action - deliberate & purposeful expression that glorifies God & ministers to His people.
    2. So, what does Gods way of love look like?
      1. James Montgomery Boice points out…Love is not some mushy emotion that embraces all, forgives all, forgets all, & requires nothing...In fact, you will notice at once that in our text Paul does not even define love. He passes immediately to how love functions.
        1. How does love function?
          1. At its heart, it is first genuine, w/o hypocrisy; & it is also discriminating.
    3. (9) Let love be w/o hypocrisy – sincere, devoid of any deception.
      1. It’s not fake, or selfish, it doesn’t put on an act, it doesn’t wear a mask that hides other feelings or motives, it doesn’t smile & say, “everything is fine! It’s pure, honest, genuine, & kind.
      2. Love must be genuine, not a form of role-playing.
    4. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good – Love discriminates (between good & evil).
      1. We can’t only cling to what is good, we must abhor evil.
      2. We are constantly told that every ideology, every viewpoint, is valid & must be affirmed...no matter how outlandish, illogical, or immoral. They say we are supposed to personally determine for ourselves what is true.
        1. However, God has made it very clear in His Word that His standards are objective, true, absolute, & apply to everyone. There is no valid standard other than His own. Sin is not something to be winked at, shrugged off, or tolerated away. Evil should be hated, & good should be clung to. (Charles Swindoll, pg.12.)
        2. We should hate all oppressive injustice that denies life & causes people to be vulnerable...like exploitation, violence & discrimination, voicelessness, Human Trafficking, corruption.
        3. We should love justice that values life...like dignity for all people, protection for the vulnerable, enabling the exploited, bringing salvation to those who have not heard, helping with a safe & civil society, helping with sustainable economic opportunities.
      3. Abhor(hate bitterly) what is evil, cling (glue or cement) to what is good.
        1. Love will bond us to the good, we will stick to it like epoxy!
    5. (10a) Devotion - Be kindly affectionate one to another w/brotherly love.
      1. The Greek verb kindly affectionate, philostorgas, means “family affection, tender loving”.
        1. It speaks of the loyalty & warmth God designed family members to have for one another.
        2. It’s a love that leaves room for weakness & imperfections.
        3. It’s a reminder for family members to be committed to & supportive of each other.
    6. (10b) Unselfishness - In honor giving preference to one another.
      1. Honor means to value & respect them.
      2. Give this respect & affirmation to others, rather than seeking it for ourselves.
      3. Our Christian love should honor all people, Christians & non-Christians alike… because, they were made in the image of God!
        1. ​​​​​​​Story - Dead man laying on the side of the road. Value. Made in the image of God
    7. (11a) Enthusiasm - Not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord –
      1. Not lagging in diligence - Don’t lack zeal. Put your whole heart & soul into it.
        1. We’ve all drifted into a lazy, complacent, or indifferent routine in our walk with God.
        2. Paul wants to shake us out of that.
      2. Fervent in spirit - Be aglow with the Spirit. A life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit radically alters the way a person lives.
        1. Fervent (zeo) means “to boil, be hot”. Paul’s saying be passionate & bubble over with God’s love.
      3. Serving the Lord - Don’t forget who you serve.
    8. (12a) Hope - Rejoicing in hope - Confident trust not uncertain expectation.
      1. Let your love bloom into hope. Love points our gaze into the future.
    9. (12b) Consistency - patient/persevering in tribulation - This world will through at you its share of difficulties, but the believer is to be steadfast in time of trouble.
      1. Simply, it is patience in hard times.
    10. (12c) Prayerfulness - Continuing steadfastly in prayer - If Satan can keep us out of touch with God, he knows we won’t cause any problems for his evil kingdom.
      1. Continuing steadfastly = attend to it constantly.
      2. Prayer is our lifeline with God. How thick is your lifeline? (Thread? Rope? Cable?)
      3. How else can we remain connected to His love?
    11. (13a) Generosity - Distributing to the needs of the saints. Share w/bel’s in need. Love is generous!
      1. It is critical for believers who had plenty to share their abundance with those in need
      2. The world’s love is grasping: It’s a love where we want them for ourselves. We want their time; their affection. We want them to meet our needs.
      3. Real love, God’s love moves us to provide for the needs of others: Those needs aren’t always financial. Money may not help someone who is grieving or lonely or sick. Sometimes its putting our arm around somebody’s shoulder. Or, giving them our company, our laughter, or our gentleness. (Lady screaming/wailing on way to hospital)
    12. (13b) Hospitality - given to (pursuing, or to hunt) hospitality –
      1. Hospitality means “love of strangers”(people who are foreign or different from us).
        1. The kind of love Paul describes helps us to fight against our prejudices, our contemptible desire to exclude those whose skin color, nationality, religion, gender, age, or class are different from our own.
      2. It’s loving others by being hospitable. (Sister Genevieve from India, Sisters of Charity, in her typical attire of traditional white sari with blue border, who adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and the fourth vow, to give "Wholehearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor")
        1. Can go home every 10 years. Can’t call home, but can receive 1 phone call a month. Kel, “oh my gosh that must be hard?” Genevieve, “It is something I’ve chosen”.
    13. What hinders us from loving others? [Fear, Passivity, & Preoccupation]
      1. Fear - Opening our hearts to others makes us vulnerable. We might be rejected. Past experiences of being burned can make us gun shy.
        1. Instead of taking a risk, we back off in self-protection.
      2. Passivity - A lot of us wait to let the other person make the first move. Instead of finding out what someone’s needs are, we want someone to tell us what to do.
        1. This passivity effectively squelches spontaneity & sensitivity of love.
      3. Preoccupation - It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives, our own pleasure & pains, isn’t it? Some get so busy with their lives where they aren’t spending time with others anymore or take time to notice their feelings. Their pursuit of their own interests drains their energy & dims their care, crowding out love.
        1. It’s being caught in the riptide of the lie that cries, “tomorrow I’m going to do this or that for the Kingdom.”
        2. Tomorrow I’ll be generous when I get that next raise.
          Tomorrow I’ll be hospitable when I get a larger home.
          Tomorrow I’ll love when I’m positive to be loved back.
          Tomorrow I’ll pray when I have time.
          Tomorrow I’ll help the poor when my bills are all paid.
    14. Tennyson said, Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
      1. ​​​​​​​Tennyson claimed that losing a love by death was better than never loving at all.
      2. C.S.Lewis concluded that never loving was a death in itself.
        1. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, & your heart will certainly be wrung & possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin in your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. – C.S.Lewis
    15. ​​​​​​​Love has Many Faces!

Verses 14-21

  1. Intro:
    1. Prayer: for those smiling on the outside & yet bleeding on the inside.
    2. R.O.E.?
      1. Not…Jane Roe, the pseudonym that was used for Norma McCorvey as the lead plaintiff in the case that legalized abortion in the United States.
      2. Not...Return On Equity, which measures the rate of return on the ownership interest (shareholders’ equity) of the common stock owners.
      3. Not...Roe, the fully ripened egg mass in female fish, which we enjoy on our sushi, which is also a wonderful source of omega3 fatty acids.
      4. But...Rules Of Engagement, which refers to those responses that are permitted in the employment of military personnel during operations or in the course of their duties.
        1. I read about some of these R.O.E.’s from the vantage point of 3 SEAL Team snipers: Christ Kyle most lethal sniper in US history; Howard Wasdin SEAL Team 6; & Adam Brown’s great book...Fearless.
    3. Two things before we start:
      1. Paul is speaking Personal not National. [How an individual Christian should act not a nation against a Hitler]
      2. Paul is speaking Attainable not Idealistic. [These are not just words to aspire to but as something to really live by. i.e. w/Spirits help!]
      3. Like when Paul told Timothy Be diligent to present yourself approved to God. 2Tim2:15
    4. Also, be honest, we all have enemies!
      1. When Paul said, our struggles are not against flesh & blood, he didn’t mean we wouldn’t have enemies here on earth.
      2. He was trying to help us keep a proper perspective, that whenever enemies confront us there are spiritual forces at their root.
      3. You may have a coworker trying to sabotage you. A boss that hates your Christianity because you wont fudge on numbers. Or, Slide#6 A neighbor that thinks the best place for his dog’s potty spot...is your front lawn!
      4. Enemies are a fact of life. But praise God...He gave us a set of R.O.E.’s
  2. 1ST RULE OF ENGAGEMENT! (14)Bless those who persecute you; bless & do not curse
    1. Now, I would have liked a little warm up command here Paul.
      1. Like, “Pray once in awhile” or, “smile on occasion” would have been nice.
    2. Bless don’t curse. (i.e. don’t hope the worse upon them!)
      1. This is the same attitude expressed by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount.
      2. Instead of hoping for the worst to happen to our enemies, we’re to willfully hope that the best will come upon them.
      3. Instead of speaking words of hatred, we are to choose to speak words of truthful good towards those intending to hurt us.
      4. It’s learning to Pray for those who are preying on us!
    3. Context here is persecuted for Christ’s name sake.
      1. This has nothing to do with self-defense, or being bullied for the sake of being bullied!
  3. 2ND RULE OF ENGAGEMENT! (15) Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
    1. ​​​​​​​Make his case your own & allow what has happened to him to affect you also.” (Boice)
      1. Heb.13:3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them - those who are mistreated - since you yourselves are in the body also.
    2. Example: Jesus was at a wedding in Cana & added to the joy of the occasion; but He also went to be with the sisters of Lazarus & wept at the grave of His friend.
      1. We can measure our likeness to Christ by the range of our sensitiveness to the sorrow & pain of others. (Daily Bread, DeHaan, June 1st)
      2. So, Engage in people’s lives. Connect with them. Not only in happy times, but in sad times too.
    3. Don’t be bugged at God when grief comes your way – because how are you going to weep w/ those who weep…unless you are acquainted with grief?
    4. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​In Ps.84:5,6 talks about a Valley of Weeping, it says Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca(weeping), They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools.
      1. As they went through, they left behind a blessing for someone else.
      2. The pilgrims anticipation of the Temple experience transforms the desert for them into a place of springs.
      3. Do you leave behind a blessing for someone else? Or expect others to give you a blessing?
    5. 3RD RULE OF ENGAGEMENT! (16) Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate w/the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
      1. ​​​​​​​NLT Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
      2. Associate w/the humble – Lit. “to be carried along w/, as by a flood which sweeps everything along w/it & then to give one’s self up to it.” (LKGNT)
        1. Slide#13 When you come to the river of humility strap on your life-vest, jump in, & be swept away by it.
          1. ​​​​​​​Too often we’re content with...dipping ours toes in humility!
  4. 4TH RULE OF ENGAGEMENT! (17) Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
    1. ​​​​​​​This reflects Paul’s concern about the impressions Christians make upon unbelievers.
      1. 1 Thes.4:12 walk properly toward those who are outside,
      2. 1 Cor.6:1 When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers.
    2. To repay evil for evil makes us participants in evil. And, it’s an evil that always escalates with each exchange.
      1. Payback time” is a bankrupt form of spiritual economics that Paul would have us never pay into in the first place. (Charles Swindoll)
    3. 17b can literally be read this way Respect what is right in the sight of all men.
      1. ​​​​​​​Respect = think beforehand, take thought for, have regard for.
      2. Right = beautiful, good, noble, honorable.
        1. Eugene Peterson supplies a different nuance rendering it, “Discover beauty in everyone.”
        2. Or we could say, “Always be on the lookout for what is good in all people.”
          1. I love the day I was enlightened, by God, on this truth, Brian quit trying to find something bad thing in others, but look for what can be redeemed in them to form a bridge & not a wall! [i.e. Other ministries; & other religions] My focus shifted from where we disagree, to 1st where we agree, so as to set up common ground.
          2. And I recognize the fact that I will often be misunderstood or accused of compromise, or being a liberal. (the Call from CCCM)
            1. I love being on the lookout for what is good in all people, rather than finding that one area I disagree & making that an issue. I swear I’ll never go back!
  5. 5TH RULE OF ENGAGEMENT! (18) If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
    1. ​​​​​​​As much as depends on you - Paul was a realist.
      1. We can’t always make everything ok. We can’t control other people. Some don’t want to be at peace with us. So he advises us fulfill our responsibility!
    2. Live peaceably – Don’t be a Christian Crusader always looking for a fight to pick or hunting down Christ’s enemies! [some Christians make their crusade against Catholics. Some against Islam]
      1. “We are to love & win people, not root them out to beat them senseless!” J.M.Boice
    3. Jesus pronounced a blessing upon the peacemaker, Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Mt.5:9.
    4. The author of Hebrews wrote Pursue peace with all people(12:14)
      1. ​​​​​​​This kind of peace is to be pursued! – It requires effort; it is not something that just happens. It is a product of mental & spiritual toil & sweat!
      2. Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, quoted in Newsweek said, “Peace is not made with friends. Peace is made with enemies.” ((Sept. 13, 1993) Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 12.)
      3. Conflict in our church brings glory to Satan & disgraces our God!
        1. How many disgraceful public displays of church disagreements could be prevented if this one admonition were heeded? - If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
    5. ​​​​​​​Illustration: A boy once asked his father, "Dad, how do wars begin?" "Well, take the First World War," said his father. "That got started when Germany invaded Belgium." Immediately his wife interrupted him, "Tell the boy the truth! It began because somebody was murdered!" The husband drew himself up with an air of superiority and snapped back, "Are you answering the question or am I?" Turning her back upon him in a huff, the wife stormed out the room and slammed the door as hard as she could! When the dishes stopped rattling in the cupboard an uneasy silence followed, broken at length by the boy: "Daddy, you don't have to tell me how wars begin; I know now!"
    6. He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.
  6. ​​​​​​​6TH RULE OF ENGAGEMENT! (19) Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written,“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.A. NIV leave room for the wrath of God.
    1. ​​​​​​​I heard this the loudest from our friend David Eubank w/the Free Burma Rangers. A Ranger himself in the mid 1980’s. Who has all the “skills” & even desires sometimes to “take out the enemy” in Burma, because of the atrocities he’s seen. But he strongly declares, “That is not our mission. Sometimes I wish it was. But that’s not why God has us there. That is not our calling.”
    2. Let God repay them for the evil done to you.
      1. Paul is advocating non-retaliation in the light of the future retribution of God!
      2. It’s His promise to do so:
        1. Deut.32:35 I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.
        2. Heb.10:31 adds, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
    3. It’s the example of David’s refusal to kill Saul on two occasions when it seemed that God had delivered Saul into his hands.
    4. We learn 2 things here:
      1. Evil is wrong & evil rightly deserves punishment.
      2. Retribution will indeed be meted out to the guilty party.
    5. There are times when doing nothing demands much greater strength than taking action (Springs in the Desert, Cowman, February 10.)
      1. ​​​​​​​Maintaining composure is often the best evidence of power.
      2. Even to the vilest and deadliest of charges, Jesus responded with deep, unbroken silence. A silence so profound, it caused His accusers & spectators to wonder in awe.
      3. Those who are unjustly accused, and mistreated without cause, know the tremendous strength that is necessary to keep silent and to leave revenge to God.
  7. 7TH RULE OF ENGAGEMENT! (20) Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
    1. ​​​​​​​This doesn’t teach “passive non-resistance but instead active benevolence”!
      1. Overcoming evil with good with direct & obvious acts of kindness.
      2. If someone does you wrong it says don’t only forgive it, but also avenge it…by doing him/her a favor!
    2. Coals of fire on his head?
      1. Light on this passage may come from an Egyptian expiation ritual, in which a person guilty of some wrongdoing would carry a pan of burning coals on his head as a sign of his repentance. Thus treating one’s enemy kindly may cause him to repent.
      2. Slide#27 Or, sometimes a person’s fire went out and he needed to borrow some live coals to restart his fire. Giving a person coals in a pan to carry home “on his head” was a neighborly, kind act; it made friends, not enemies. [Haiti carry everything on their heads. Purse]
        1. Compassion, not revenge, should characterize believers.
      3. Paul said earlier(2:4) the kindness of God leads one to repentance.
  8. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​8TH RULE OF ENGAGEMENT!(21)Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil w/good
    1. ​​​​​​​NLT Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
    2. Don’t overcome verbal slam for verbal slam, punch for punch, but letting grace & goodness have the last word! (Swindoll)
    3. Only 2 choices! – You will be overcome by evil, or you must yourself overcome it!
      1. You can’t let evil alone. And, evil will never let you alone!
      2. You must fight. And, you must conquer…or be conquered!
      3. To respond to evil is not to overcome it but to add to it.
      4. Our most powerful weapon against evil is GOOD!
    4. Return evil for good is devil-like!
      Return evil for evil is beast-like!
      Return good for good is man-like!
      Return good for evil is God-like! [Let’s rise to this point]
    5. Now, there’s no guarantee that our kindness will change their feelings & actions toward us; they may continue to try to hurt us.
      1. But though enemies are a fact of life, Praise God...He gave us a set of Rules of Engagement. Let’s Engage!
    6. Prayer: God is our refuge and strength, An abundantly available help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Romans 12". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/romans-12.html. 2017.
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