When Christianity Gets Real – Romans 12:9-13

Father, every time we come to Your Word, we are mindful that we are dependent upon Your Holy Spirit to guide us into all the truth, and You work through human teachers whom You have given to the church. And so, I pray that You would fill me with Your Spirit so that I would say only that which is true, but far, far beyond me we need the master teacher, the Holy Spirit, to illumine our minds and our understanding. So, we look to Him, we look to You, and ask now that You would take over this study and own it. This is Your Word. This is not my word. This is Your Word and we want it grafted into our lives and hearts. So, do Your work now in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Okay men if you would and ladies who are joining us, take your Bible and turn with me to Romans chapter 12, Romans chapter 12, and today I have verses 9 through 13 for us to look at. I hope I can get through this, Romans chapter 12. I want to just read the passage starting in verse 9.


“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another and honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”


The title of this lesson is “When Christianity Gets Real,” and in these verses this is the first time that the Apostle Paul in the book of Romans becomes very specific in what is required of us as believers in our daily walk. Everything to this point in chapters 1 through 11 has been laying a doctrinal foundation, and by the way, this does underscore the importance of theology and doctrine. Paul doesn’t begin the book of Romans in Romans 12 verse 9. He belabors laying this foundation of truth, doctrinal truth, theological truth, upon which he will now build.


So, everything to this point has been intensely doctrinal, and then even in Romans 12 verses 1 through 8 it has been general requirements of us as believers to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice and exercise our spiritual gifts, but now beginning in verse 9, suddenly Paul becomes, let me say, painfully specific. This is where Christianity gets real. This is where the rubber meets the road, men. This is taking Christianity out of the ethereal and down into the real. This is down in the weeds. This is where you and I are to live every moment of every day. This is personal holiness spelled out.


So, what we have in the verses that I just read, verses 9 through 13, are thirteen virtues of love 13, thirteen distinguishing marks of love. These all are in what we call a participle. There is no main verb. These are all participles, and participles support the main verb. And there is no main verb. So, the way we are to understand this is at the very beginning of verse 9 where it says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” All of these really are defining marks of love. This is really like 1 Corinthians 13, the thirteen virtues of love in 1 Corinthians 13. You remember it says, “Love is patient, love is kind, love does not take into account a wrong suffered, love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”


This is Romans’ version of 1 Corinthians 13. So, that is why this is very challenging. It is in one sense easy to know sound doctrine. The challenge is to live out sound doctrine. I can go buy sound doctrine at the Christian bookstore. The putting it into practice is the challenge. So men, I need to put out a warning. This is going to hurt. This is the answer to all your wives’ prayers. This is what they have been praying for in your life and in my life. So, Amy has a smile on her face right now, Kent. She just doesn’t know why she has a smile on her face. It’s because this is going to be brought home to your life, my friend.


Okay, so as we go through this, to make this simple I have reduced each of these thirteen virtues to one word just so I can have a hook to hang each of these on. So, I am going to give you thirteen words for these thirteen virtues. I am breaking every homiletical rule in the books, but I think this will help us.


And the first word as we start in verse 9 now is “sincerity.” Paul writes, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” And as he begins here, we see that love never fakes it. Love must always be genuine from the heart in action. So, let us look at this. He begins, “Let love be.” Actually, “let” and “be” are not in the original Greek. It just says, “Love without hypocrisy.” The word “love” is a word you are familiar with even if you don’t know Greek. It is the word agape, which was rarely used in the Greek culture, and it was a very foreign concept in Roman society. It was not something that was desired. However, it became the leading distinguishing mark of the church and of true believers, and what the world wanted no part of was to be what would mark the believers. It would be their love for the other believers. Certainly, love for God, but in this context, we are dealing with love for the brethren. I mean that is obvious, like at the end of verse 10 he says, “give preference to one another,” and then in verse 13 he says, “contributing to the need of the saints and practicing hospitality.”


So, the whole context here is, “loving the believers,” “loving other saints,” and this is reinforced, as you well know, throughout the entire Bible. I just want to give you a couple of cross-references to underscore the importance and the priority of loving one another in the body of Christ.


In John 13 verse 35, Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, that you have love one for another. It is really the badge of discipleship that we have love, one for another. In 1 Corinthians 13 and verses 1 through 3, Paul says, “If you speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love,” I am a spiritual zero, I am in the negative, “I am nothing,” Paul says. “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” And then at the end of this, in verse 13 he says, “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”


This should scream volumes to you and me of the priority and the imperative that I love you, that you love me, that we love one another. In the next chapter here in Romans 13 and in verse 8, he says, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” He says in verse 10, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.” So, we see how important love is. Galatians 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is,” what is number one on the list, “love.” You would think this would get through to me and you would think this would get through to each one of us, “the fruit of the Spirit is love.”


So, first and foremost is love. And I guess I just need to read one more cross-reference in 1 John 3 and verse 14, only because this is so critically important. How would you know if you are a believer? How would you know if you are born again? It is a pretty good question. How would you know that you have eternal life? Well, this verse will tell us. 1 John 3 verse 14, “We know that we have passed out of death,” referring to spiritual death, “into life,” referring to eternal life, “because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death,” meaning you are still lost. You are still unconverted. You don’t have one drop of spiritual life in you if your life is characterized by selfishness, by just self-focus, that the mark of a true believer that you have passed out of death into life is that you have love for the brothers.


What is love? Love is sacrificially giving of yourself to seek the highest good in another. Love is always giving, not taking. Lust takes; love gives. And you give in a costly manner, costly to you. It is sacrificial giving. So, love is selfless, love is self-giving, love is self-denying, love is sacrificial, and I think it is really because love is so important in the Christian life. There is a sense in which it is at the very epicenter of the Christian life, that it is really worth our taking these few moments to drill down and to underscore what love is and why it is so important. If I genuinely love you from the heart, I will promote your best interests. I will do what will build you up and affirm you and help you in the Christian life. Love is others-oriented.


I remember the story of General William Booth who was the founder of the Salvation Army in London in the nineteenth century. It was a ministry that was raised up really to provide street corner preaching to spread the gospel through London and use the venue of loving others in tangible ways as a platform to preach the gospel. And they would have an annual convention of the Salvation Army workers, and one particular year they all gathered in a large banquet hall and General William Booth would address all of the workers who would be preaching the gospel on the street corners of London.


And one particular year, as he walked to the podium, he looked out into the faces of all the people and his entire address was one word. He just looked at everyone and just said, “Others,” and then walked back to his seat and sat down. Everyone just like looked around at each other. I mean, that was even shorter than Churchill’s speech, “Never, never, never give in.” Just “Others.” And that is what Paul is saying, that if you present your body as a living and holy sacrifice to God, that leads to something, and that leads to others. It leads to serving others. That is what verses 3 through 8 was all about, about spiritual gifts and serving others.


But now beginning in verse 9, Paul really begins to peel the onion back and Paul now really begins to talk in the specific ways that we are to love one another. And I think we can even put it this way: If we are not loving others like this, it is because we have not presented ourselves to God as a living and holy sacrifice, because he says when we present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, he says in verse 2 that “you will prove what the will of God is.” That means, you will come to know by experience what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. And now, he is giving us the first steps in the will of God, that will of God, which is good and acceptable and perfect. Here are the real steps that you will take in the will of God.


And so, in verse 9, here is the first step. He says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” So, the first heading is “sincerity.” Real love is without hypocrisy. Now, the word “hypocrisy” means “without disguise,” and let me give you the historical background. In the first century, one of the leading forms of entertainment was to go to what we would say today a play or theater. There would be a stage and there would be steps that would be on an incline, and there would be like a Greek play, a Greek drama, and the actors would have memorized their lines. And when they would go onto the stage for a Greek play, they would put on a mask, and we have all seen caricatures of that. There would be a happy mask for some actors. There would be a sad mask for other actors, and they would go on stage and in essence hide behind this mask and pretend to be someone other than what they really were. And they had already memorized their lines, and they knew the vocabulary and they would emote and they would know how to control their voice and their body language, and they would carry out a role. It would be role playing, and they would be this kind of person or they would be that kind of person. Then when the play is over, they would come off the stage. They would take the mask off and they would go back to being who they really were in real life.


And so, Paul draws on this, and he says love cannot be like that. You cannot put on a mask when you come to church or when you are around other believers and pretend to be someone that you are not. In other words, you are one person on Sunday morning. You are someone else in the office on Monday afternoon, and you can’t just put on a show when you are around other believers and just pretend to be spiritual and know the vocabulary and know how to give appearances, that real love is not with just mere words and playing out a part. Real love is without hypocrisy. Real love is authentic. Real love is genuine. And this heading, “sincerity” could have just as easily been “honesty,” that you are real as you are with other believers, real in your expressions of concern, real in your expressions of encouragement, real when you say, “Hey, I’ll be praying for you,” real in “How’re you doing?”


So, this is where Paul begins and it is very challenging and it is very convicting for me and for all of us, and the only way we can love without hypocrisy is as we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, as we walk not according to the flesh because our flesh always comes out with hypocrisy and pretense. It is when we are filled with the Spirit, walking in the power of the Spirit, yielded to the Holy Spirit, that the fruit of the Spirit is love, real genuine Christian love.


So, this is where Paul starts, number one, sincerity. So, I think each one of us needs to look inward and audit just our own life and ask God to remove any sense of hypocrisy. And remember the Pharisees had mastered the art of religiosity and with that, hypocrisy. And you remember in Matthew chapter 6 Jesus addresses this and Jesus says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them,” like you are on a stage, “otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full,” which was just to be seen by men. God has turned His eyes the other way. “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you pray, go into the inner room, close your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” They filibuster God in public when they pray and just go on and on and soar to the heights of heaven, and it is all just a show. So, this is saying we cannot be like the Pharisees and be hypocritical in the show of our love.


Well, enough said at this point. Let us move to the next one, and not only sincerity, but second, “purity.” We go on to see, “Abhor what is evil.” And by this we learn that true love despises the evil that hurts others. All of this is in the context of love, loving others in the body of Christ. And when he says, “Abhor what is evil,” the focus is in the immediate context here of genuine concern for other Christians. So, when he says, “Abhor what is evil,” he is saying abhor the evil that hurts loved ones, that hurts others in the body of Christ.


Now, the word “abhor” is very strong. It is the opposite of “love.” So, this is a sharp contrast. This is kind of the love-hate contrast. That is the word I mean, juxtaposition. And the word “abhor” means to despise. There is an evil we are to hate. It means to hate exceedingly. It is more than just dislike. It is to have abhorrence for evil and to utterly reject it and to refuse it, and the evil here is what is injurious to others. It is whatever is wicked and sinful that will bring harm to others. And this evil could be in my life and be a call for repentance, because sin in my life does hurt others. Sin is never self-contained. Sin is never just kept to myself. Whenever I sin, it has an effect upon those who are around me, and so I need to abhor evil in my own life, sin in my own life.


And I need to abhor evil as I would see it in other believers, and that is why Matthew 18 talks about if your brother is caught in a trespass, go to him and show him the fault of his ways and if he hears you, you have won your brother. You have done the most loving thing you could possibly do to him, is to help remove this log out of his eye. I am to remove the log out of my eye first before I go to remove it from him. And if he doesn’t hear me, then I am to bring two or three brothers or sisters with me, all in the intention of love. But it is we abhor the evil that we see that is festering inside of you. So, we are not to be neutral towards evil. We are not to be passive. We are not to just look the other way. This is genuine Christ-likeness. Jesus abhors evil, Hebrews 1. So does God, Psalms 5, 7, 9, and 11. Evil grieves the Holy Spirit. How can we be indifferent towards that which grieves the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4 verse 29?


A doctor who loves his patient will hate the cancer that he sees in the patient and will do everything he can do to eradicate the cancer from him because he loves the patient and because he loves health. And so, this calls upon us to abhor what is evil in true genuine love. Evil destroys true love. Love is not genuine when it allows evil to fester in yourself or in others. So, abhor what is evil.


Third, “positivity.” Third, positivity. He says, “Cling to what is good.” So, if we are to abhor what is evil, we are to cling to what is good, and true love holds tightly to what is good for others. This verb “cling to” comes from a noun that means “glue,” and so we are to be glued to what is good. And what is good here refers to what is good for others. The word “good” here means that which is inherently right or upright, that which is morally excellent, that which is honorable, and so what is good for others is holiness and godliness and righteousness.


We are to cling to what is good in our own lives. We are to affirm the good that we see in the lives of those that we love, and we are to be always promoting that which is good, to place a very high value on what is good, and we are to influence others for the good, whether by the example of our lives, whether by our words, whether by the sacrifice that we make for them. We are to be always promoting the good in others, and here this good is that which is holy and righteous. So, let us think about how we can truly love one another by doing everything we can to remove what is evil and to promote that which is good.


Now, we come to verse 10. The fourth word that I have is “loyalty.” True love is fiercely loyal to others. Love never lives in a revolving door and it is just in and out, changing with the weather. No, there is a loyalty that is to exist between brothers and sisters in Christ. So, he says at the beginning of verse 10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” We are to be committed to one another is what this is saying, and “to one another” is referring to fellow believers in the family of God. And that would begin with our own church and those that we worship with. It certainly begins with our own family and those who are believers in our own family, that we are to be deeply committed and fiercely loyal to one another in brotherly love.


Now, these two words, “brotherly love,” you will recognize this in the Greek. It is literally philadelphia, and which is the city of brotherly love. You remember, they booed Santa Claus at the Philadelphia Eagles game? But anyway, it means to have tender affections for those in your family. And true love, it starts at home and it starts with those who are immediately around you and that you have an ongoing relationship with. Let me just tell you, the easiest thing for me to do is get on an airplane and fly to the other side of the world and be with somebody for three days, because I don’t really know them, they don’t really know me. Everybody is on good behavior. It is kind of like a honeymoon. You know, everybody is just super nice to one another. The challenge is when I come back to Dallas, and I am with you guys, okay? That is the challenge. And be nice to Kent, and I think you understand where I am coming from with this, the people that you associate with on an ongoing basis. That is where the rubber meets the road. That is the acid test. That is the reality. And it says that we must be devoted. We must drop anchor and not be swayed and not be in and out of relationships. There is a stick-to-it-iveness, and we would say, put it this way, that true love remains loyal through thick and thin, that there is an unconditional resilience about true love through good times and bad times, when you are nice to me and when you are not nice to me.


Then fifth, the word, “humility.” He goes on to say in verse 10, “Give preference to one another in honor.” That is humility, considering the interests of others to be more important than your own. True love yields to others. This verb, or it’s a participle, “give preference to” means to go before, and the idea is that true love lets others go before you. An example of this would be men what you do when you approach a door and your wife is with you. You open that door and you let her go first. When you go to a restaurant and you are seated, you pull her chair out and you help her be seated first. She goes before you and you slide the chair under her, and then you come and seat yourself. That is a good visual of what Paul is saying here, “Give preference to one another.” And the “one another” here refers to fellow believers. He says, “in honor,” and the word “honor” here means respect, showing esteem and admiration, really the idea of elevating the other person. You allow them to go first and in so doing you put them, in a sense, on a pedestal. You assign to them a special place of honor. That is what Paul is saying that true love does that. It doesn’t put others down; It lifts others up to a place of honor.


And Philippians 2 verse 3 that I just quoted, verses 3 and 4, but let me read the whole two verses. “With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” In Ephesians 5:21, “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” So, again, this is yet another challenging mark of true love. And our own flesh wants to rise up and elevate ourselves to be the hero of our own stories, but true love gives preference to others in honor and giving them a place of dignity.


Number seven is the word “urgency.” He says, “not lagging behind,” as we began verse 11, “not lagging behind in diligence.” This says that true love is swift to take action as you see a need, an opportunity to minister to someone. True love is not procrastinating. It is not dragging its heels. “Not lagging behind” is a Greek word that means not hesitating, not being slack, not being slow, not shrinking back or holding back. “Not lagging behind,” he says, “in diligence,” and diligence is the opposite of lagging behind. It is the same as not lagging behind. Diligence means zeal, enthusiasm, wholeheartedness, like your heart is really in this. You are not doing this because you have to. You are doing this because you want to. So, we could say this, delayed love is no love. Prompt love is true love. True love does not drag its feet. And another synonym for this “urgency” could have just as easily been “immediacy,” that there is an immediacy about true love. Sometimes, I think we want to just pray about something too much, when we just need to step out and do it.


The next word, number seven, “fervency,” and you see that is the very word that is used, “fervent in spirit.” This means that true love is fired up to step in and get involved with others. True love really just gushes out of the heart, and that is the idea of spirit, “fervent in spirit.” That is a small “s.” It could be translated to capital “S” because it is generated by the Holy Spirit, but I think it is properly translated here “in spirit” with a small “s.” In the original language, there is not upper or lower case letters being used. And so, down in your heart, there is a fervency, there is a fire, and the word “fervent” means burning, boiling hot. There is a warmth. You are warmhearted. There is a glow about you as you are set on fire. And with fire there comes intensity, which is another synonym for “fervency.”


So, what Paul is saying here is, “Be on fire with intensity to reach out to others. Don’t be dragging your feet and don’t do it just going through empty motions. Have your heart in it.” And sometimes people will even put up a “No, no, no, I couldn’t let you do that.” I mean true love is so fervent in spirit, you just kind of work your way in because of the intensity of your love for others. And I think they sense the genuineness when there is fervency.


Then, at the end of verse 11, number eight, “activity,” “serving the Lord.” And this is important that serving the Lord follows fervency in spirit, because if it was just fervency in spirit it would just be kind of a feeling type of thing. To follow up with “serving the Lord” shows that this fervency is put into action, that that your shoulder is to the plow, that you are actually serving with dynamic activity. And it says, “serving the Lord.” Isn’t that interesting that as I am loving others I am serving the Lord? And this says that my love for others is to be as unto the Lord. You remember in Matthew chapter 25 when Jesus said, you know, “When did you visit Me in prison and when did you clothe Me and when did you feed Me?” And Jesus said, “Well, you did it when you did it to the least of these.” I mean, we are actually serving the Lord when we serve others, and the others are those first and foremost in the body of Christ.


We are to love everyone, even our enemies, but there is a prioritizing here of loving the brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, which actually has an effect on a watching world. It makes them want to be on the inside of the circle of our love that begins with believers. It really has a subconscious effect of wanting then to become a believer because they see all this love that is flowing within the body of Christ. Then when he says “serving,” this word for serving literally means to be a slave. It is translated other places in noun form as being a slave or a bond-servant, which would more accurately be “slave.” Paul said in Romans 1 verse 1, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus,” doulos, a slave of Christ Jesus. Well, this is the verb form of doulos, which means “to be a slave and be subject to the lordship of Jesus Christ.”


Now, to fill this out, “serving the Lord” means not being lazy toward others, not being just a spectator toward others, not being idle, not being slothful, not being inactive, not being this kind of a Christian that you just walk into church, everybody caters to you, everyone is nice to you, everyone serves you, everyone brings things to you, everyone does for you, and then you just get up and walk out, and the rest of the week you are just self-absorbed. You come back to church and somebody opens the door for you. Someone hands a program to you. Someone smiles at you. Someone is nice to you. Someone prepares a table for you. Someone brings you coffee. Someone provides free donuts for you. Someone has studied for you. Someone preached to you. Someone led you in singing. Someone on and on and on, and then you just get up and walk out.


I mean, here is a spiritual cul-de-sac. Everything is flowing into you. Nothing is flowing out of you. No, Paul is saying true love is serving the Lord, and in reality you are serving the Lord by serving others. True love puts the game jersey on and gets out on the field and is in the game and is active, is involved in whatever the capacity, even if it is just looking for personal and practical needs in the lives of others and stepping in as you have opportunity to meet them.


Alright, let us press on here. We come to verse 12. Or I tell you what, I probably need to stop. I have been going a long time. Kent, do you think I can keep going? Okay, Kent said, “Sure.” Okay, see when you are nice to Kent, it comes back to you. You cast your bread on the water. So, with selfish motives, I am nice to Kent. So, okay, I got it. Here we go. You ready, guys? Can I get an “Amen?”


Audience:        Amen.


Okay, “Amen.” Don’t make me beg. Alright, number nine, and it is the best word I have got for this is “hilarity.” And these are all ending in “I-T-Y” or “C-Y.” If you have got any better, please give them to me. “Hilarity,” because he goes on to say, “rejoicing in hope.” True love is not dour with a sour face. True love is not being just mechanical in cranking this out. True love is not being stoic and “I’m just doing my duty.” True love, really, there is a rejoicing as you are loving others, and that means as much as whatever it is you are doing for them. It is not just what you do; it is how you do it. It is not just what you do in loving others; it is how you love others, and it has to have this element of rejoicing, of being vibrant and positive and upbeat.


The word “rejoicing” means being glad, being exuberant, being exultant, being cheerful. That is good medicine for others. That ministers to them many times as much as whatever other need it is that you are meeting in their life. Rejoicing is contagious. Galatians 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” What is number two on the list? Joy. I mean, these are frontloaded in their importance. Now, our rejoicing is to be, he says, “in hope.” The word “hope” is a positive expectation about the future, about the one that you show love to. In other words, “I think very highly of you regarding your future that you are going to be growing in the Lord.”


Listen to 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love hopes all things.” Did you hear that? That means love expects the best of others. Love believes in others. And so, as I am rejoicing as I am serving you, there is this positive expectation that you are going to be advancing in the Lord, and you do it with rejoicing, not begrudgingly and not with a martyr spirit, but with a great attitude, with supernatural joy.


Number ten, “tenacity,” tenacity. He says “persevering in tribulation.” That is to say true love keeps on keeping on. True love never stops loving. True love presses on even in the face of opposition and difficulty. The word “persevering” here is a compound word in the original language, and it means to “abide under,” and the idea is to “abide under pressure.” It means to bear up under, to endure in loving others. And then he says “in tribulation,” and the word “tribulation” here is an interesting word from the original language. It means when you are under pressure from both sides. And we would say in the vernacular “when you are between a rock and a hard place,” and there’s no way out. You are in dire straits. You are squeezed in from both sides. Paul is saying, “Persevere in loving others even through the difficult pressure of certain trials.” That is when you really need to amp up your love for others. In other words, don’t be a fair-weathered friend to just love others when the sun is out and it is shining. No, we need to love others through the storms of life. Now, listen to 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love bears all things. Love believes all things. Love hopes all things. Love endures all things.” Love is like a clock that just keeps on ticking and the battery will just never run out.


Number eleven, “dependency,” dependency. At the end of verse 12. It says “devoted in prayer,” and this is devoted in prayer for others. This is a part of our loving one another in the body of Christ that we pray for others. And in a real sense, prayer is the greatest thing you can do for someone else. I mean, sometimes the easiest thing to do is just to give them something. What is hard is in prayer is to give them time, interceding before the throne of God. So, we are to be steadfast in our earnest prayers for the spiritual good of others.


Let me quickly wrap this up, verse 13, “generosity.” He says, “contributing to the needs of the saints.” True love is large-hearted and open-handed with what you have to share with others. The word “contributing,” interestingly enough, the noun of this verb, the noun form is “fellowship.” It comes from the very same root word. You have heard the word koinonia, fellowship. Well, this is verb form of koinonia, and it means “sharing with in order to meet the needs of the saints.” So, true love gives to meet the needs of others.


And then finally, “hospitality,” number thirteen at the end of verse 13. And men, is this quite a list? I don’t know about you, but this is overwhelming for me. This would be a whole lot easier just to go back to the doctrinal section, and let me just do some word studies for you. You know, this is making a great demand upon us. I don’t want to minimize in any way what Paul is saying here. So, number thirteen, “hospitality.” He says, “practicing hospitality.” Or let me just begin with the word “practicing.” It means to pursue, so that the picture here is that you are running after the person that you love in order to pursue them to show hospitality. And the word “hospitality” is a compound word: phileo, to love; xenia, strangers. You have heard “xenophobia,” which is the fear of strangers. This is the opposite of xenophobia. This is the love of strangers, and the idea is to welcome believers into the fellowship. In other words, you just don’t have your own little holy huddle and nobody gets inside your ring of relationships. That you are always looking for the new believer, the new saint, to bring into circles of fellowship and you are showing kindness to them.


And I cannot tell you how this has been shown to me as I have traveled literally the world these last several years, and many people probably even watching this on different continents around the world, watching today, who have taken me in as a stranger and have treated me like family and have given and given and given hospitality and generosity to meet needs. It makes you feel like you don’t want to leave. You just want to stay inside that circle of love that is being shown to you. And it is a mark of an elder in 1 Timothy 3 that you show hospitality to strangers, but it is a mark of a mature believer that you are always kind of looking beyond the people who are normally around you into the corners of a church, to see who is standing in a corner, who doesn’t really know anyone. And they may even be just passing through town and they have come to worship, and you find them and draw them into the circle of fellowship. That is just a mark of love without hypocrisy.


So, men, this has been quite a study. I have no idea what time it is, and I have probably run so many stop signs, which I have. So, forgive me for that. I tell you one reason I did all this is I just didn’t want this to end up being one verse at a time. I wanted you to feel like we are making some progress and it just takes some time to make some progress.