Summary: Part four of this series focuses on verse ten which discusses brotherly love.
A Living Sacrifice To God
This is part four of my series “A Living Sacrifice to God.” If you recall from verse one, Paul begged the Christians in Rome to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to God. He then asked that they not be conformed to this world but to renew their minds and thus prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God is. Having said that, the rest of the chapter is spent informing them what the evidence of their mind renewal (their Christianity) would look like. The evidence would show up in how they treated one another, especially those of the faith. He first talked about the gifts within the body and how no one is greater than the next person based on their gifts. He ensured that the people knew that they needed each other. From there he begins to narrow his focus on how we are to put our Christianity into action. Last week we looked at verse nine where he talked about how we are to genuinely love one another without being hypocritical. Verse nine ended with Paul stressing our need to abhor evil and cleave to that which is good. This morning we will continue with verse ten.
Romans 12:10 says, “Be tender loving one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” When we first moved to Kansas, we visited several Churches before we found a new Church home. People were generally friendly to us but there was one family who really sort of encircled us and made us a part of their family. I remember that first Sunday when we visited that Church Cynthia looked down from the choir as we were introducing ourselves as visitors and she gave us a huge smile. When the service was over, she made her way to us and introduced herself and then we met Willis. Shortly thereafter we were invited to their home which led to our friendship for the last nineteen years. I do not know how many of you have ever moved somewhere where you did not know anyone except maybe a few people that you worked with, but that can be traumatic. When you move to a new location you must begin to establish new relationships and for some people this can be a difficult process. We had great friends and family in Arkansas and Tennessee, but moving twice in less than two years made it difficult to connect with other people and develop new friendships. However, we were able to create new friends and family here primarily because the Fulks in particular opened their doors to us. They offered us brotherly love and made sacrifices to help us develop relationships in Kansas. We are forever grateful to you guys Willis and Cynthia!
While we were able to experience this when we moved here, unfortunately that is not the case in every Christian community. I shared with you previously about the time we visited a Church in St. Louis shortly after we moved there and no one in the Church greeted us or welcomed us. We were strangers and were treated as such. In Churches today it is not uncommon for people to attend a Church service week after week and never connect with anyone else in the Church. They are a member of the Church but not a member of the Christian family worshipping in that building. No one knows them. No one calls to check on them when they have been missing for weeks. If they stopped coming, no one would reach out to see how they were doing. This is the modern day Church relationship in some places and some people prefer these types of relationships. In general, life has become so busy with natural concerns that we do not have the time to foster the sustaining relationships with other believers that will get us through difficult times. We are okay having a superficial relationship where we never have to share deep personal thoughts, feelings and beliefs. And, when we are around others, we can fake it because we really do not want other people in our business. This was never God’s plan for the local Church, for He designed it to be a place where people’s lives could be built together as living stones. His plan was and still is to have a people who demonstrate His covenant nature of love in their relationship with one another and there is no better place to do this than within His body of believers.
In Romans chapter twelve, Paul talks about these types of covenant relationships. In verse ten he says, “Be tender loving one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” (Romans 12:10). I want you to think about the Christian brothers and sisters that you love deeply, so deeply that there are times when you will put their needs before your own. The phrase “be tender loving” and “brotherly love” are key to understanding the level of relationship that God intends for us to have with all of our Christian brothers and sisters, even if you attend different Churches. The term “Be tender loving” comes from a Greek word that expresses the idea of a love between friends that is authentic, sincere, tender and warm. Remember what Paul said in verse nine about love without hypocrisy? This verse follows that with the love we are to express to one another. The Greek word for this phrase is actually the compound of two of the words I shared with you last week. The Greek word is “Philostorgos” and is the compound of the words phileo and stergo. Phileo is the Greek word for friendship and stergo is the Greek word for that depicts the tender love that should exist between the members of a family. Because this word is compounded, it represents two or more friends who love each other just as deeply as if they were members of the same family.