Romans Lesson 38: Love Each Other Openly; Jesus is Coming Soon
“8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now, our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent; the day is at hand. Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
The responses have been very interesting, and thanks for the questions that come. I enjoy being able to try to back up the conclusions that I have come to. I enjoy the loving discussions. All too often, these kinds of discussions have become a thing of the past. A lot of people, even Christians, have fallen into name-calling and character assassination. More and more sadly, a lot of churches are being swept into the Social Justice issues and many are forgetting the Gospel. I saw a survey just a day ago that showed that 77% of dying churches, no matter what size, did not see the need to share the Gospel to the point of imploring people to seek Jesus. Just recently, I had a discussion with a customer who is a Sikh, and she was astonished that I was so sure about what the Bible says about Jesus. She was of the opinion that one could not be that sure.
Folks, what is the point of solving all the social issues if people die and go to Hell? It is tantamount to the idea that Jesus put forward, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul” (Mark 8:36). We can solve all the world’s social issues and miss the point of solving their eternal issues.
- Love is the proof, verses 8-10
Jesus told his disciples in John 13:34-35 that if they, the apostles and disciples, would love each other, this would be the true testimony that they were His disciples. The kind of love that Jesus is talking about is a sacrificial love. The kind of love God the Father has for us. This the kind of love that puts another’s needs first, even at our own expense. Love that does not cost you something is not true love. Ultimately, true love will cost you yourself. You will humble yourself and drain yourself of all ego through the Holy Spirit and get to the point where you don’t even get offended, and all of your anger will disappear. I will tell you that this is a lifelong journey and one that you cannot undertake in your own power and of your own ability. This is a work of the Holy Spirit as He forms the image of Christ in us (Galatians 4:19).
Notice that Paul uses the image of childbearing; this is a painful experience for the mom, probably the most pain that she will endure in her life. Yet, in all that, she sacrificially loves this little child and works to help him or her to grow into a useful and productive adult. An adult who, in turn, will have kids as well. This is the image we find; Jesus through the Holy Spirit will form Himself in us, and our goal should then be to help others desire to have Him formed in them as well, constantly repeating until we are all made in the image of Jesus.
The love, called agape love, is the love that drives us to be servants. It drives us to consider another’s needs ahead of our own. It curtails our sinfulness; we become obedient in the way we interact with each other. We don’t bear false witness, we don’t covert our brother’s or sister’s stuff, we are not envious of their success, and they in turn don’t look down on us as if we are failures. We don’t commit adultery and we don’t kill each other, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually.
In James 3:1-12 we are told that we should not use our tongue, our words to destroy each other. In 1 Peter 4:8 we are reminded that if we are to love like Jesus, we must forgive each other a MULTITUDE of sins. That means we have to forgive without counting and keeping score. This is the kind of love that draws people in; the kind of love that is not ashamed of sinners and the outcasts but makes a place for them. The kind of love that forgives even when the wrong is still being committed. The kind of love that serves the people hurting us and treats them as friends. The kind of love that invests more than it withdraws, and the kind of love that makes people wonder how you got this way? Then you point them to Jesus.
What if we could begin to love this way? What if we were able to get ourselves out of the way so others could see Jesus? What if we longed to find ways to serve rather than lord over others? What if we no longer had ‘self-esteem’ but we esteemed each other and built each other up? Paul tells us here in Romans 13 that it can be done. This is a possibility, and it should frame the way that we live.
- Jesus is coming, soon! Verses 11-14
This earth, the current earth is not our home. We, at least I, often forget this. My wife and I had the privilege of buying a home about 4 years ago, and I love working on it. I have these plans; we are going to do this and this, fix that, and on. I also work as a car salesman, and I hate being the second-best salesman. I work to be the first all the time. There is no sin in being ambitious; there is no sin in being competitive even, but we should temper our lives with the weight of eternal things. Do not sacrifice time with God, with our spouses, our kids, our churches and people for things. What good is it to me to be the number one salesman, but being an absentee dad? What good is fixing my whole house up and allowing my marriage to fall into disrepair?
Since we know that Jesus is coming soon to judge us and hold us accountable, how should we prioritize our lives? What things or persons, what activities and endeavors should bear the pre-eminence in our lives? Paul tells us that the reason we are to love each other the way Jesus loves us is that Jesus is coming soon. We should live so that He finds us loving like Him when He comes for us. Love, God’s love in us and through us helps us to form the right priorities.
In verse 12, we are told to put off the works of darkness and put on the works of light; this means that loving like Jesus is a deliberate act. One has to determine to do it; one has to make a choice. Well truthfully, one has to make millions of choices. We learn to make the right choice based on our love, not our anger, how offended we are, how hurt we are or any other emotions.
When we think about love first, this will change our actions and reactions. Take the position that today could be the day that Jesus comes to get us or we go to see Him; either way, live like Jesus is coming now.
I read this a week or so ago – someone had it posted to their FB page – that procrastination is the arrogant assumption that God will give you another day to get it right. Too many of us Christians assume we have tomorrow to get it right; I am looking at me as well. But we know that today is the day. I have attended enough funerals and overheard enough regrets as to the last words someone said to their deceased relative or friend. They assumed they had another day to get it right. We have no guarantee of tomorrow, or later today for all that matters. Love like Jesus now; He is coming soon. There are many verses that warn us about procrastination (Ecclesiastes 9:10, 11:4; Galatians 6:9; Hosea 10:12; James 4:17 and Luke 12:40). There are hundreds of others, but these will give you the idea.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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