July 4, 2021

Commitment to God: Character (part 1)


An unusual sermon… 1) 12 points, 2) different expectations… I understand that it will be difficult to apply all 12 points, even remember them. So, your task today is to make a very thorough self-evaluation in the light of this text and determine what God is already working on, and today you will be joining that project.

At the end, we will be praying in groups of 2-3 people, where you will share what is God calling you to do.

Everything in our text looks more like the mercy ministry, but why are we talking about the character? This to-do list reveals character! (vv. 9, 21) – functions like brackets for the whole section: it begins with love, and end with love; love wins; it is not what you do at the end of the day, but who you are, which eventually ends up in what you do.

14 character traits that we are called to work on:

I. Love (v. 9a)

(v. 9) – “let love be genuine”, without hypocrisy, sincere. Why do people have to be instructed in genuine love? Well, we tend not to. Why do people have hypocritical love? For the sake of acceptance, praise and respect; and at the same time, unwillingness to sacrifice. Pride!

The deed itself, even a great sacrifice, can be done by sham (1 Cor. 13:3)! (Sunday school, choir, small groups…)

A vivid contrast, Jesus (John 13:1…) – loved to the end. He washes their feet!

II. Sanctification (v. 9b)

(v. 9) – “abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good”… Why is it commanded? There is tendency to agree or even say no to evil, but there must be hatred toward evil. 

There is tendency not to cling to the good. 

There is tendency not to leave the evil behind. But here it is more – we cling to good, like a husband holding fast to his wife.

(Heb. 4:15) – “tempted in all things, except sin.” (2 Cor. 5:21) – “He made him to be sin, for us, who knew no sin…”

Christ has never sinned; always said NO to sin!

A week has passed – where are you now? Looking back, where do you think God wanted you to say no to sin, and you didn’t?

III. Affection (v. 10a)

(v. 10) “brotherly love with affection”… an interesting word in Greek for love. There are 4 main types of love. Agape is sacrificial love, Philia is friendly love, Eros is romantic love, and Storge is the love of a child’s attachment to his mother, or your attachment to a dog or a cat… or a child blanket. So, here it is this last form of love – the love of attachment. To this word Paul added philea – a friendly love! In combination, this is a gentle but strong emotional attachment! (1 Pet. 1:22)

We must not only learn to treat other people will in the church, but have brotherly affection.

Such love is only possible if we meditate on God’s love for us in Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:8).

IV. Devotion (v. 10b)

(v. 10) – “outdo one another in showing honor” – honor can be given without inner love or desire, but the word “outdo” says that we must compete to the point of winning the race to honor others! Celebrate success, count them first, put them above yourself, etc.

Christ, showed respect toward those whom the society of that day avoided and rejected. Harlots, and tax collectors, sinners, pagans, women, children… They finally said of Him that he was a friend of sinners and tax collectors (Matt. 11:19). And when Christ (John 13) took the towel and began to wash the dirty feet of the disciples, such as show of honor embarrassed even the disciples!

V. Zeal (v. 11a)

(v. 11) – “do not be slothful in zeal” – this diligence speaks of not just a busy person, but of someone who lives a fulfilling life. His life boils, rages, blooms and smells! This is not just a person who has plunged into vanity. He rejoices and enjoys life. He is zealous!

“do not be lazy in zeal” – The fact is that for Christianity it is necessary not only to quickly light up and then quickly fade out, but faithfully continue to do what is necessary with zeal!

Christ was zealous to the end (Is. 50:7-9) God is a helper!

VI. Passion (v. 11b)

“be fervent in spirit” – the opposite is boredom, emptiness, routine and predictability. We don’t want to live boring lives! At times we want to quit an ordinary and normal life… work, school, responsibilities at home, dinner with family, housework, helping others, serving in the church… it is no longer interesting. Why? There is no goal in life! Why do I do all of that?

(Col. 1:24-29) – joy in suffering (these are very strong emotions, so even suffering cannot take them away…), (v. 28) there is a purpose in life (all who suffer from boredom, have one thing in common – they have lost the meaning in life… there is no purpose and ultimate goal that they strive), and here we have a bright goal of life: to serve people, and to make them able to be successful, useful and effective. In this process, Paul was drawn into agony (v. 29)! This life can be called anything, but boring! 

Christ’s life was not boring (Mark 3:20-21) – miracles, travels, preaching, meetings, and caring for the disciples and people…

The life of a true Christian cannot be boring!

VII. Labor (v. 11c) (hard work)

“serve the Lord”  – serve the Lord, not yourself, and not even other people! It is very important. We want to serve ourselves, and we expect others to serve us! But that’s not it. Moreover, not even serving others! But serving the Lord! This is when stability appeals in ministry – even if people do not accept, do not thank, do not note your good work, but you continue to serve because you are serving the Lord!

(1 Pet. 4:11) – last time we mentioned the ministry by gifts, and the end goal of ministry is to bring glory to God!

Christ was so deeply immersed in labor that he could sleep in a boat during the storm! Constantly on the move (41x – the Greek word for “immediately” is used in the Gospel of Mark). 

VIII. Joy (v. 12a)

(v. 12) “rejoice in hope” Hope – confidence in the future, which in the present time gives stability (Heb. 6:11, 17-20) – hope is built on the reality of the Gospel and where Christ is now!

How do we boast in hope? (Rom. 5:2-5)

The joy of Christ (Heb. 12:1-2) – the joy of expectation of the blessings in the future!

IX. Patience (v. 12b)

“be patient in tribulation” – life will have difficulties!

Patience brings forth fruit or results (1 Pet. 3:13-18)

Christ’s patience in suffering for sinners (Phil. 2:6-8)

X. Fellowship (v. 12c)

“be constant in prayer” is like my dedication to my wife… I do not forget for a moment that I am her husband, and that I love her.

Consistency in prayer to God is a constant awareness of God’s presence, and my dependence on Him. If so, then I pass the day in fellowship with Him.

Christ’s example (John 12:23-28) – a conversation with people, smoothly turned into a conversation with the Heavenly Father!

XI. Care (v. 13a)

“contribute to the needs of the saints” – elementary fulfillment of the need of the people around. An interesting word “contribute” is KOINONIA. Fellowship with the needs of others. Literally, get involved with the needs of others! It will cost you!!!!

(Mark. 10:45) – Christ came not to be served, but to serve!

XII. Hospitality (v. 13b)

“seek to show hospitality” – hospitality (1 Pet. 4:8-9). You don’t just need to do it, but you need to love to do it! Paul is talking about jealousy! Don’t forget this (Heb. 13:1-2).

When was the laset time there were people in your house who are not your relatives and friends?

We meet a similar command in the OT (Lev. 19:33-34) – and the basis for this ministry is the understanding of who God is! Context – God delivered the people from Egypt. He has redeemed them and therefore treats them with hospitality. God took us into His kingdom (Col. 1:12-14), and we are extending that hospitality to each other.

Communion – is the celebration of God’s hospitality toward is!

Hospitality is promised to us in heaven (Matt. 26:26-31). The Last Supper is a symbol of our acceptance by God into His kingdom, but also a promise that we will receive hospitality and reception from the King when we come to heaven!

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