3 September – Proper 17 – Romans 12:9-21
Living as Humble Little Children of the Father
Almighty and most merciful God, in this earthly life we endure sufferings and death before we enter into eternal glory. Grant us grace at all times to subject ourselves to Your holy will and to continue steadfast in the true faith to the end of our lives that we may know the peace and joy of the blessed hope of the resurrection of the dead and of the glory of the world to come;
True greatness. Is not found in self-sufficient strength. That alone runs counter to our culture today which boasts, “Only the strong survive.” Rather, it is rooted in humility. Like that of infants and children. παιδίον Which always trusts. Always hopes. Always perseveres. This love. - Bears all things. Believes all things. Hopes all things. Endures. All things. 1
The greatness of child-like faith receives all good things as gracious gifts from our Father in heaven. Apart from such faith, “you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” But whoever is humbled. As a little child. Is considered, “the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” 2
How then shall we live? We live in humility. In faith before God. And in service toward our neighbor. Which is always motivated by love.
We live in humility and faith before God and in love for our neighbor.
1. This is shown by “serving the Lord.” V. 11
Paul is specific regarding attitudes which lead to certain actions and outcomes. Rejoice in hope. Be patient in tribulation. Be constant in prayer. V.12
A. Rejoice in hope. ἐλπίδι
1. Rejoice with patient perseverance with those who rejoice. V. 15a
Says Jesus, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice, celebrate, and be exceedingly glad; because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.”3 Paul expresses the same sentiments when he writes, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.” 4
It is indeed a privilege to suffer. But your life is not lived in the abstract. Rather, you live on behalf of Christ and with Christ. And for Christ. Thus we rejoice in the confidence that we belong to Him. You are a sheep of His fold. A lamb of His flock. A sinner of His own redeeming.
2. We also “weep with those who weep.” v. 15b You can have unwavering confidence that Christ will act on your behalf. We should therefore not hesitate to pour out our hearts to Him in prayer concerning our personal grief. How comforting it is to know that Jesus understands our pain and provides the comfort that we so sorely need! Without a doubt, the primary source of consolation is our compassionate heavenly Father. 5 He is the foremost example of empathy. He has assured His people: “I myself am the One comforting you.” —Isaiah 51:12; Psalm 119:50, 52, 76.
B. Paul encourages us to be patient in tribulation. We each will face difficult days. Paul points us to Christ. Who will shepherd you. Under the most difficult times.
1. Bless those who persecute you. V. 14a – Says Jesus, “But to those of you who will listen, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone takes your cloak, do not withhold your tunic as well.” - Luke 6:27-29
2. Bless and do not curse them. V. 14b – Jesus continues, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” - Luke 6:35
C. Be constant in prayer.
1. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. v. 17 Paul does not mean to be politically correct. Rather he encourages us. This is love in action. Repay no one evil for evil. But take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone.
2. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. v. 18 If you regard someone who has done evil in a haughty, disrespectful way, then you are guilty of not doing all that is possible to live at peace with that person. Paul speaks of our attitude toward that person. It means to think about and to help meet others' genuine needs, including the needs of people who do not like us.
3. But why? What’s the point? Does Paul argue that by doing good to an enemy you will increase God's judgment on that person? We are not to have any part in repaying evil in our personal relationships. Love is to be genuine. My love for an enemy isn't genuine if I am motivated by the idea that any kindness shown increases God's punishment on that person! There are people placed into your life for only one purpose – that you may love them.
2. In the reverent fear of God. We do no harm to our neighbor.
Luther, commenting on this section of Scripture reminds us, “Faith is a living, unshakeable confidence in God's grace. It is so certain, that someone would die a thousand times for it. This kind of trust in and knowledge of God's grace makes a person joyful, confident, and happy with regard to God and all creatures.
This is what the Holy Spirit does by faith. Through faith, a person will do good to everyone without coercion, willingly and happily. He will serve everyone; suffer everything for the love and praise of God, who has shown him such grace.
It is as impossible to separate works from faith as burning and shining from fire. Therefore be on guard against your own false ideas and against the chatterers who think they are clever enough to make judgments about faith and good works but who are in reality the biggest fools. Ask God to work faith in you; otherwise you will remain eternally without faith, no matter what you try to do or fabricate.” 7
A. “Let love ἀγάπη be genuine. v 9 This love. Refers to divine love. What God prefers. To literally see that person as they are – one for whom Christ died. Thus Paul would also write, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 8
1. This love. Abhors. Detests. Hates. ἀποστυγοῦντες What is evil. This is the only time Paul will use this phrase. It is a love devoid of evil.
2. This love. Holds fast to what is good. It is love connected to Christ. Who went to the cross to redeem you and make you His own.
B. Love φιλαδελφίᾳ one another. v.10
1. With brotherly affection. Give preference. “For you have been taught by God how to love one another.” 9 This love. Is self-evident. It is constant. It simply exists. It can do none other.
2. Outdo one another in showing honor. Honor is an act of grace. It is giving someone else what they don’t always deserve and can never earn.
3. Honor is the opposite of shame. Shame drives people away. Shame marks people as outcasts. Unloved. And unvalued. A shamed person says, “If you really knew everything about me you wouldn’t love or value me.” But honor draws people into community. Honor says, “I know everything about you and I love and value you.” Honor is rooted in the cross. This is the demonstration of Christ’s mercy and love. You belong to Christ. That is why you have honor.
Genuine love is not simply being nice to people. Genuine love has a moral orientation toward the good we desire. When we show love toward someone, we are moving them toward Christ and His goodness. To love someone is not simply to cater to specific likes and dislikes of that person. It is rather to act toward them in ways that help them experience more of Jesus. Showing them His goodness love and care.
Passive Sentences – 3%
Readability – 77.8
Reading Level – 4.5
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas Higher Things
1. A Prayer in times of affliction and distress:
2. 1 Corinthians 13
3. Matthew 18:3-4
4. Matthew 5:11-12
5. Philippians 1:29
6. 2 Corinthians 1:3,4
7. Luther's Commentary on Romans 12
8. Philippians 2:5-9
9. 1 Thessalonians 4:9