Who’s Lookin’ Out For Ya?

Share with God's people who are in need. Romans 12:13

This is the second time this week that I've singled out this verse. I discovered something this week from looking at this passage: there's a reason God put this verse here and it's this, God will use us to help other Believers. It seems obvious, doesn't it. But quite frankly, Believers who are in need won't get help from the outside world.

25 years ago when I became a Christian I believed that people looked out for one another around the world. Was I ever wrong! Recently I figured out that mostly the media of the world ignores the plight of Christians. Sometimes they are downright hostile towards us. Rarely is the hostility or blindness deserved. As I've said before, there will be a day soon when the Christians will be overlooked for jobs, told what they should believe, and harassed for their moral stances. It hasn't hit the West fully yet but it will. Other nations are experiencing lesser freedoms and more antagonism.

Those are the people we need to be reaching out towards. Ask God to show you how to do that. Just one thing. Just one single, solitary, lone thing.

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Practicing Hospitality

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

Hospitality is not something that many in the West are proficient at. Sure, there’s the occasional holiday meal with family and friends, and family is welcome upon invitation but by and large, we don’t practice it. It’s not that we are inhospitable. It’s just that we like our privacy.

Ancient Israel and surrounding areas were famous for their hospitality. Today many developing nations practice wonderful hospitality. Muslim culture are very hospitable. You can point to Africa, South America, and the Far East, and all three regions with few exceptions are very inviting.

Ironically, Western nations, in general, are not known for welcoming neighbors into their homes. Of course there are exceptions. Oddly enough, Western nations tend to be very generous with aid, relief, and mission work. There is a disparity between the personal hospitality and the corporate “generosity.”

So, why is it so important to be hospitable? The answer probably is in the last paragraph. Inviting someone into your home is much more personable and more difficult than mailing a check. Your guests get a chance to see the real you, warts and all. Likewise, you get to see them as they are. It really is a win-win if we get over the fact that our place may not be perfect or “what will they think?” or any number of unspoken objections.

Those two words: practice hospitality appears at the end of this passage that started by saying, “love must be sincere.” They are related if we’re willing to see it. Where to begin? Small but intentional steps.

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Let’s Share

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

This part of the passage is a direct and tangible evidence of “love must be sincere.” Again I am reminded of my brothers and sisters in foreign lands. War, poverty, disease, persecution, and lack of basic necessities have made life extremely trying and difficult for them.

And yet.

And yet they act under the principle of “when the only thing in this world you have is Jesus, you have more than enough.” I think we can all learn from that.

Edward Hale said, "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I should do and, with the help of God, I will do."

Focus. Single-mindedness. Someone in your “area of influence" is in need. You can't do everything but you can do something. Find out what that something is and do it. It could be a letter. It could be a meal. It could mean loaning or giving money. It could mean traveling overseas to do it. It may cost you. Pray that God will give you what it takes to accomplish it.

Share with God’s people who are in need.

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Joy, Patience, and Faithfulness

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

Joy. Patience. Faithfulness. Three very distinct marks of a Believer. They are also three very wonderful character traits to possess, they’re all related.

Think of it, you’re caring for your ailing but independent parents. Their health is deteriorating but they don’t want your help despite your numerous offers. You want to run (by not being available to help anymore) but you know you need to be patient. It causes you to be in constant prayer because, quite frankly, you don’t how you can help them any more than you already have. The joy comes when you realize that God is in control. Your hope in Him to see you through is greater than the situation. Period. Paragraph.

There are a million other situations that are similar to this: different players, different circumstances, same all-powerful God.

  • The runaway daughter cannot be found.
  • The alcoholic brother continues to destroy his life.
  • The man who walks away from his wife and children after 15 years of marriage.
  • The long time friend who wants nothing more to do with you.

Very real and very painful. All too common. Your instinct is to give up, but you know you need to persevere. And you will. You have the Holy Spirit inside helping you to make it through each. A year or two from now you’ll look back and wonder how you made it, but for now, you’re continuing to rest in God’s goodness. One little victory at a time.

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Keep Your Spiritual Fervor

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

Anyone who has traveled on a missions trip knows that, odd as it seems, most of the time we don't go for the people we will eventually serve. Certainly many may benefit from the work we do or the sermons we preach or the encouragement we're able to give. And it's likely that our hosts will be extremely gracious and appreciative of us being there.

No, we go there to "change the world," and discover that actually we're changed inside and are more affected by what we see and hear and taste and smell than what we’re able to accomplish. Listen to people talk when they first return from a missions trip. Rarely will people talk about bad experiences. Sure they'll mention the flat tires and engine problems and construction gone wrong, but you’ll also hear a fire and a fervency in their voices, a renewed zeal that they would never get by sitting in a pew or attending a Youth Group meeting.

There are thousands of ways of serving the Lord, but if you've never ever been on an overseas missions trip, I'd encourage you to make the decision to go one one. I've seen 6-year-olds and I've seen 80-year-olds, so age should never be an excuse. You'll re-ignite your passion for Christ and His kingdom by serving Him this way. Plus you'll inspire others to follow in those steps.

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Honor One Another

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

A youth group had finished a full day of yard work at a widow's house. The youth leader reported to the pastor their accomplishments and that the lady thanked the group from the Baptists for coming out. “Did you point out that you weren't Baptists and that you were from the Brethren church?” the pastor asked. The youth leader thought about it and said, “No, I didn't think it mattered.”

And it doesn't.

Could we accomplish more (in any aspect of our lives) if it didn't matter who got the credit? Perhaps, then, we should pray to this end.

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How’s the Teamwork?

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

Have you ever been on a team that didn't act like a team? Back in the day I was known around my neighborhood by one of the parents as Mr. Ball Hog (granted, he didn't get points for originality but 35 years later I remember it). If I got the ball in football or baseball I wasn't about to pass it or share it with anyone (running across the field to tag someone out. I wanted the score. I wanted to do it myself. I wanted the glory of “doing it my way.” Every time. Obviously I didn't endear my friends because they wanted to play too. They were on my team but I didn't appreciate it.

I find the same kind of reality in the Christian world too, though, usually more subtle than my ball hogging antics! We have a team, a winning team. On our team are a lot of very different personalities and giftings. Friction is bound to occur between teammates because, well, none of us have quite “arrived” yet. And yet, our Manager has told us we need to play well together. If we don't our game will suffer. We'll still win in the end, but boy will it be an “ugly win.”

Instead of complaining against your fellow Believer, pray for him or her. You may even discover that the real “issue” wasn't with him/her after all.

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A Good Thing

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

We see “goodness” all around us, usually without trying too hard. Obviously, though, there's a lot of evil, sick, twisted, and just plain bad stuff in the world too. Perhaps it’s time to change the lens we've been looking through. Some say the glass is half empty; some say half full; some say the glass was too big to begin with. And I realize that as I write this many people around the world (many of them Christians) are undergoing intense persecution that no man, woman or child should ever have to go through, so I don't want to be a Pollyanna and see only positive things.

Because there's a lot of bad stuff, we have to train ourselves to view the good. Watching an elderly couple walk down the street hand in hand is a good thing. Observing a child obey his parents is a good thing (some might even say a great thing!). Watching the sun set or rise is a good thing; watching someone paint that sunrise is also good. Spending time praying for a woman in the hospital is a good thing; spending time with that person in the hospital is also good. There are literally thousands of good things out there.

The Bible tells us we need to cling to those good things. Hang on to them and jot them down because, yes, you will see and hear about evil in the world. But we also can witness and actually do some of those good things. It doesn't have to be grandiose or the absolute best thing you’ve ever seen or done. The world needs more plain, ordinary, run-of-the-mill goodness, the goodness that comes from a changed life in Christ. You don't have to do it; you get to do it.

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