Summary: How to treat our Christian family and how to deal with our foes.
Open your Bibles to the book of Romans 16.
We’ve come to the last chapter.
Many of you are familiar with Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Living.
It’s a good book.
It won’t get you to heaven, but it will really help you approach life with the right kind of outlook. Dr. Vance Havner was asked one time to compare the writings of Norman Vincent Peale
with the writings of the Apostle Paul.
Apparently he didn’t like Dr. Peale too much, because this was his classic reply.
He said, “I find Peale to be appalling,
but I find Paul to be appealing.”
Today we want to appeal to the Apostle Paul and learn some things.
The book of Romans was his greatest work.
What the Sistine Chapel was to Michelangelo, what the Mona Lisa was to da Vinci,
what the Ninth Symphony was to Beethoven,
the book of Romans is to the Apostle Paul.
He goes higher and deeper than any other
of his writings.
As I told you last Sunday, we came to the end of the letter, and what chapter 16 is, is a postscript.
He’s just talking about some of his friends, sharing a few little thoughts here.
I want to remind you
that every word of the Bible is inspired.
We can learn so much from the Apostle Paul and about the Christian life
in just reading these personal comments.
Now, in verses 1-20, we’re going to learn,
first of all, about how to treat our Christian family, our friends and then we’re going to learn how to deal with our foes.
How To Cherish Your Spiritual Family
The first thing I want to talk to you about is
how to cherish your spiritual family.
Now, cherish is the word that I use to describe
all the feelings I have hiding here inside
for all the believers in Christ.
And the Apostle Paul also had this kind of love and compassion for the Christians there at Rome. He makes all these personal remarks.
How do you cherish your spiritual family?
First of all, you need to learn to
1) share positive affirmations about them
Share positive comments about them.
That’s what Paul does in verses 1-15.
We need to be sharing positive affirmations
about our friends, our spiritual family.
How often do you make a point to say good things about those who are in the body of Christ? Not only speaking to them,
“I appreciate you, I love you.”
How often do you say good things about others to someone else?
Because that’s what Paul’s doing.
He’s saying, I’m going to say this good thing
to all those who are in the church there.
It’s a good thing for all of us to do,
the power of positive encouraging.
So the first thing is to share positive affirmations.
There’s another thing you can do to show how
you cherish your spiritual family, and it is to
2) Show personal affection
Would you please look at verse 16?
Romans 16:16. “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.”
Some of you are already nervous.
Do you know what we’ve done?
We’ve looked at verse 16 of Romans 16.
By the way that same command appears
not once, not twice, not three times,
not four times, but five times in the epistles
we are told to greet one another with a holy kiss.
You know what we do?
We explain it away.
We gloss over it.
We’ve substituted the holy handshake.
Because have you ever heard anybody say,
“Well, that was the common custom in the day to greet each other with kisses.
And today in our culture, we just don’t do that. We greet each other with handshakes.”
So we just said, “Oh, okay.”
Folks, that’s not the truth.
If you research the customs of the people of that day…are you ready for this?
It was not the cultural custom of the day
to greet people with a kiss.
It was not part of the Hellenistic Greek culture. They were influenced by stoicism.
In stoicism, it was considered wholly inappropriate to show any emotion in any situation.
The truth is, in Rome and in Greece, they seldom even would touch a stranger or a newcomer.
If it were someone they knew,
they certainly wouldn’t hug and kiss them. You’ve seen enough of those Romans movies,
You know what they did when they greeted somebody?
They would say, “Greetings,” and grab forearms. By the way, do you know where the custom of
handshaking came from, if you care to study it?
It is an ancient custom that a man would put out
his hand to show that he’s not holding a dagger. And the other person would take his hand to