Summary: 1) Service in Love (Romans 12:9-10), 2) Service in the Lord (Romans 12:11), 3) Service in Loyalty (Romans 12:12), and finally 4) Service in Lack (Romans 12:13)
In the latest summer installment of the movie Transformers: Age of Extinction: A mechanic and his family join the transforming Autobots as they are targeted by a bounty hunter from another world. Following the plot of the three previous transformers movies, vehicles transform to fight evil. This transformation is necessitated by an attack by the evil Decepticons and in order to save humanity, people join with the transformers to repel the evil. But as one reviewer said of this whole enterprise: "The last time I saw something so long, so loud and so boring, it was digging a new subway tunnel". (http://arts.nationalpost.com/2014/06/27/transformers-age-of-extinction-reviewed-michael-bay-presents-three-hours-of-his-worst-work-so-far/)
The Christian life can feel at times, as shallow as a summer blockbuster. Acting out of mere duty, we can often lack direction and enthusiasm for what we do. After outlining eleven chapters of who God is and how He changes believers, chapter 12 of Romans begins to show how what God has done (the Indicative), enables what we must do (the Imperative). It does so not from mere duty, but inspired excitement for the wonderful power and potential in the believers calling.
Any believer who honestly appraises their life by these standards cannot help being convicted of falling far short of the perfection the inner person desires. On the other hand, however, the believer who is walking in the Spirit will see the Spirit working out these precepts in their life to a greater and greater extent. An honest look at our lives in light of these precepts will bring conviction about our failure to keep some of them and confidence about our success in keeping others. Where we fall short, we should ask the Lord’s help. Where we have been faithful, we should give Him thanks and praise.
In Romans 12:9-13 the Apostle Paul outlines how the service to other believers, as defined by the "One Anothers" of scripture, not only benefits them, glorifies God but also enables us to grow in godliness. In them we see: 1) Service in Love (Romans 12:9-10), 2) Service in the Lord (Romans 12:11), 3) Service in Loyalty (Romans 12:12), and finally 4) Service in Lack (Romans 12:13)
1) Service in Love (Romans 12:9-10),
Romans 12:9-10 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (ESV)
Because this is so central to the "One Anothers" in particular and Christianity in general, we will spend about half our time this morning on this one point.
The first duty is, Let love be genuine/without hypocrisy. The greatest virtue of the Christian life is love. The use of agapē (love) was rare in pagan Greek literature, doubtless because the concept it represented—unselfish, self-giving, willful devotion—was so uncommon in that culture it was even ridiculed and despised as a sign of weakness. But in the New Testament it is proclaimed as the supreme virtue, the virtue under which all others are subsumed. Agapē love centers on the needs and welfare of the one loved and will pay whatever personal price is necessary to meet those needs and foster that welfare. Paul’s purpose is to exhort, not simply to describe. Love for others, singled out by our Lord himself as the essence of the OT law (Mark 12:28–34 and pars.) and the central demand of the New Covenant (John 13:31–35), quickly became enshrined as the foundational and characteristic ethical norm of Christianity (1 Thess. 4:9; Gal. 5:13–14; 1 Cor. 13; Jas. 2:8–9; 1 Pet. 1:22; 1 John 2:7–11; 3:10–18; 4:7–12, 18–21; and see particularly, in Romans, 13:8–10.). The love of Christians for others was grounded in, and enabled by, the love of God expressed in the gift of his Son (see esp. John 13:34 and 1 John 4:9–11) (Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 775). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).
The love of which Paul, Peter, and John speak is genuine love, the sincere and fervent love that is completely genuine/without hypocrisy and untainted by self-centeredness. Love that is not genuine or out of Hypocrisy is the antithesis of and completely incompatible with agapē love. The two cannot coexist. “Hypocrite” was the term for show actor, and the ancient actors always wore a mask while they were on the stage (hence ὑπό in the compound). Genuine love is Paul’s bidding: Not stage-actor love; no mask of love! 1 John 3:18: “Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”( Lenski, R. C. H. (1936). The interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (p. 766). Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern.)
• Sometimes Christians have a habit of pasting on a fake smile and faking friendly because we know how we ought to be. We use phrases like we "love someone in the lord", which is usually code for "I know I am supposed to be friendly with someone, but really can't stand them, so I will be polite".