Romans 12, Part 2
Dec 28, 2010
We left off in the middle of Romans 12:8, quoting from The Emphatic Diaglott:
(8) ... Let the Distributor [one who imparts, gives, or shares] act with disinterestedness[sincerity, without hypocrisy or pretence] ; the president, with grace; the sympathizer, with cheerfulness [glee].
There are seven giftings of grace listed in verses 6-8:
6. President (proistemi, "one who presides")
Paul does not expound upon these, but tells each to do what he is called to do with love according to his area of gifting.
(9) Let love be unfeigned [without play acting]. Detest the evil; adhere to the good. (10) With brotherly kindness [philostorgos, "family love"] towards each other be tenderly affectionate [philadelphia, "brotherly love"]; in honor preferring one another. (11) In duty be not slothful. In the spirit be fervent, serving the Lord. (12) In the hope be joyful; in affliction, patient; in prayer, persevering, (13) contributing to the wants [needs, lacks] of the saints, pursuing hospitality [philoxenia, "love toward strangers"] .
In essence, Paul exhorts us to show love and concern for the family of saints (believers), as well as for strangers who are outside of the church family. Returning to the NASB, we read in Rom. 12:14,
(14) Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.
This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:43-45, saying,
(43) You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy." (44) But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you (45) in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
The religious leaders taught that the love of God was limited to their Israelite "neighbor" but did not extend to the Romans or other foreigners. Jesus shows us that they had misunderstood the Scriptures and did not really know the mind of the Father in this matter. The proof is in the fact that God sends rain and sunshine upon both "the evil and the good."
The rain, it raineth every day
Upon the just and unjust fella,
But more upon the just because
the unjust hath the just's umbrella.
God uses the evil ones to train the righteous in the ways of God. By persecution the mind of God is instilled in the remnant of grace. When we undergo such trials, it takes time to work through our emotions and come to that place of peace, rest, and forgiveness. Then we are able to pray for those who persecute us "without play acting," as Paul says.
(15) Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
This is based upon verse 5, where Paul said that we "are one body in Christ." When one weeps, we all weep; when one rejoices, we all rejoice. If any body part is in pain, the whole body feels it and responds to alleviate that pain.
(16) Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
"Humility is the root of all grace," wrote A. W. Tozer. My father was raised in his church, and his mother (my grandmother) was the head of the Women's Prayer Band Fellowship in Tozer's church for many years in Chicago. Tozer's greatness was in his revelation of the mind and character of God.
Paul wrote earlier in 12:3, "I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think." This also means, as Paul says, "do not be wise in your own estimation." It is probably the ideal mindset to think of ourselves just a bit less than others think of us. Let others think more highly of ourselves than we do.
At the same time, it is not healthy to have an inferiority complex which can paralyze us. The "I am not worthy" mindset, which is so firmly rooted in Catholics and even ex-Catholics (but others also), is the result of denying people the right of forgiveness that is given freely through Christ. Such people often do many good works, but if they designed to alleviate guilt, then even good works can be a form of bondage.
The good news is that our Adamic man will NEVER be worthy, but Christ in you will never be unworthy. As children of God, we no longer are doomed to a life of guilt and fear, for we are the righteousness of God in Christ and have been imputed righteous, regardless of our flesh. So let us identify with the Christ Identity rather than the Adamic identity which our natural parents passed down to us.
(17) Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. (18) If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Little boys love to play war games. Big boys just make war. But maturity makes men more reluctant and cautious about declaring war. War and conflict are the fruit of the Adamic man of flesh and sin. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and is one of the measures of spiritual maturity.
Paul's admonition, "never pay back evil for evil," also needs some further explanation, because some have taken this to mean that discipline is wrong. When a child lies or injures his brother, he does "evil." Is it wrong for a parent to discipline the child? Is this paying back evil for evil? The answer depends upon the form of discipline and the motive behind it.
Some parents have been known to discipline a child only when the child inconveniences him. This is not discipline, but punishment, for it based upon disrupting the parent's comfort, rather than upon the correction of the child's behavior and the restoration of the victim's rights.
Likewise, a parent might impose a form of punishment that is unscriptural and does not conform to the mind of Christ. There is often either a lack of discipline or too much of it. The Church has generally been influenced by teachings of hell, and so they tend to over-discipline their children and demand too much punishment for those they call "criminals."
Modern psychology today tells parents to impose a "time out" on children, either by banishing them to their room for a period of time, or making them stand in the corner. This does not break the rebellious will of the child, but serves only as a "cooling off" period. Government has tried to improve on the mind of God, but has only created a worse problem, which they expect school teachers to resolve.
Biblical judgment fits the offense or crime and is designed to restore both the victim and the law-breaker. When it is imposed out of a motive of godly love, rather than revenge or anger, it results in an orderly yet loving society that respects the God-given rights of all men. The Law of God does not slap the wrists of murderers, nor does it hang men for stealing a loaf of bread. The primary goal is justice with deterrence coming in second, rather than tough laws that are designed to deter crime at the expense of true justice.
True justice is not repaying evil for evil. True justice is the godly way of restoring all things. And so, when the Scriptures teach us that most men will be saved "through" judgment, it is not that God is repaying evil for evil, but that He is restoring them by His loving discipline as a father corrects His children.
This is the second part of a series titled "Romans 12." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones