Brotherly Love

(Romans 14:1-4)

There are many people with different Christian backgrounds who read this and other Christian blogs. They come from all denominations and sects of the church, both from mainstream churches as well as small independent groups, home churches and those going solo who are in-between churches.

Many paths, many opinions but one goal
Many paths, many opinions but one goal

The one thing ALL of these people have in common, apart from a love of the Lord, is they believe the path they are following is the right path, the true path and the pathway to the kingdom of God.

But they also all believe different things. They are all approaching the kingdom of God from slightly different directions. And unfortunately all too often we see bickering between brothers and sisters in the Lord over their differences of opinions.

And it is exactly this issue that Paul is addressing here. Bickering over opinions and differences is not appropriate for brothers and sisters in the Lord. Instead we need to learn from each other because NONE of us knows it all and all of us can learn from each other.

Let's look at it and see what Paul is teaching us that the Lord taught him.

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Love: The Great Commandment

(Romans 13:8-10)

What is the ultimate expression of the faith and beliefs of a Christian? Is it good works? Is it giving a helping hand when needed? Is it showing our faith is real through the things we do, our behaviours and where we stand when the going gets tough?

Well, all of these things do have a bearing on our Christian life and the walk that we are on with Jesus Christ. All of them are certainly important. But there is a foundation upon which all of these plus many other aspects of the Christian life stand.

That foundation is love. Not love as it is expressed in this world, but the love of God and living a life that reflects His love for us in all we do and say.

God Is Love

Needless to say it is impossible to live a life in Christ unless we express it through the love of God.

The scriptures tell us that God is love and that being true means that He cannot do anything but give His love and show His love to us who are His children.

The opportunity we have to be set free from sin, death and all of the wickedness in this earthly life exists only because God loves us. His grace is nothing more than an expression of His love for anyone who will seek Him out and come to Him to receive His salvation offered through Jesus Christ.

His love also is not like the depictions of love in this world. It is not the soppy mush portrayed in movies and books. It is unique for His love is unlike anything on this earth.

The love of God did not require us to love Him first. He shows that while man was still His enemy He gave man a chance. While man is still a sinner, torn apart by the wretchedness of human passions, emotions and lusts, God offered His grace, and through it His love so that we may be saved.

Furthermore, there is nothing that we can offer in return except ourselves. The Lord Jesus made the point that when He gives us anything it is not as people of the world give. People give to others expecting something in return. But the love of God gives expecting nothing in return for who has anything or can offer anything that would repay God for what He has given to us.

Debt of Love

To that end then we are being trained to love as Christ loved us. We see these sentiments expressed in these verses in Romans 13 saying,

8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

Do not be indebted to anyone except to love them as God and Jesus Christ first loved us. That is the sum of all we are called to. We are called to love.

We know that when Jesus died He took away our sins. And at the same time He also set us free from the law and ordinances of the old covenant as He issued in the New Covenant age.

But we see in the law the expressions of God's love. The commandments we see above are just a few of the Ten Commandments and as each of these ones as well as most of the rest relate to how we treat the people around us, they are by nature expressions of love.

The great commandment in the law was to love one another just as God loves us.

But now that we are free from law, we are freed from this law also. However, we do not reject what the law tells us. Rather we are at greater pains to uphold the truth of the law and the love of the law because it is the nature of God. We may not be bound under law to love, but we are convinced and convicted by the Holy Spirit to live a life of love for it is the Holy Spirit's role to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ.

So when we are living in the love of God as this scripture informs us, we do not seek to upset, offend or wrong anyone. Instead we seek to help, conciliate, overcome conflicts and seek the peace of God to work in all situations.

This is our call. We are called to be children of God. And to be a child of God is to be a child of love, exhibiting the love of God in us through all that we do and say.

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For God So Loved The World
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Vengeance Is Mine

(Romans 12:19-21)

Over the last few posts we have looked at the attitudes and behaviours of life in Jesus Christ. Most specifically there have been a few posts considering the issue of revenge and retaliation when we are hurt or wronged by other people.

Vengeance belongs to God so love your enemies
Vengeance belongs to God so love your enemies

The bible is very clear about this subject and the whole issue of taking the law into our own hands. Don’t! That is the message. Don’t put yourself into the position of judge, jury and executioner for this is not what we have been called to.

Here in these last few verses of Romans 12 we see this spelled out very clearly and what we should do when it comes to those who oppose us and oppose the will of God.

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Live In Harmony

Romans 12:16

In this world there is terrible conflict. It is the way of the world that one person or one group stands opposed to others.

Live in harmony
Live in harmony

The nature of this world is competition to compete for what is best for the individual. In this day and age in particular the fundamental philosophy of the world is “What's in it for me” and the need to be “taking care of number one”.

But that is not what the Lord seeks. That is not the way of the kingdom of God. It is His desire for mankind to live in harmony with one another as this verse in Romans 12:16 tells us. So this is the lesson to be learned today…how to live in harmony with one another.

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Living in the Family of God

(Romans 12:13)

Living in the Family of God
Living in the Family of God

This scripture truly lays the basis for living in the family of God. It epitomizes the brotherly love that exists in the family of God and one of the many ways that love shoud be manifested within the family.

The verse reads as follows.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)

When we break this down we see a significant difference from the way this world treats extended family and what we should do as members of the family of God, especially in this day and age.

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It Isn’t A Competition

(Romans 12:10)

It is interesting that some of the terminology used by writers in the bible would lead us to think that Christianity is a competition. It sounds in some places as if we are all competing in some way.

It's not a competition
It's not a competition

This is especially true when Paul says in places about “running the race set before us” and it is “only those who run according to the rules will receive the prize” and similar messages.

But in truth it isn't a competition. I say this because if you mis-read this particular verse it could make you think it is a competition. The verse reads as follows and it is the last section that could mislead.

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)

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Beware Pride And Arrogance

(Romans 11:13-24)

Beware pride and arrogance
Beware pride and arrogance

So often today I see infighting between the different denominations and groups who call themselves Christians.

I see Protestants arguing with Catholics, Pentecostals arguing with non-spirit filled religions, and everything in between. Every group has a point of view and every group believes they are correct and have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They throw up the arguments of past Christian writers pitting one expert against another in an attempt to prove that they are right and others are wrong. And they use their experts to try to disprove and discredit the expert opinions their so-called opponents are quoting.

And they are all wrong. All they show in their arguing is pride and arrogance. They add nothing to the advancement of the gospel and rather they are away from it because pride and arrogance have no part in the gospel of Jesus Christ or the pathway to life. And this is part of what this section of scripture discusses.

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In His Violent Death He Loved

(Acts 7:54-60)

Any Christians reading the title of this post may probably think this post is talking about Jesus. I mean what human apart from Christ would even think about love when they are suffering a violent death apart from Jesus. And He was the Son of God.

And non-Christians who may be reading this may think anyone suffering a violent death would be either thinking about revenge or more likely, be so full of fear or hatred that they don’t know what to think.

But in both counts they would be wrong because there is another man who suffered a violent death and yet in his suffering his thoughts were not fear, not hatred, not revenge, not anger but love for those who were in the process of killing him. That man was Stephen the martyr.

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The Friend Of God

(John 15:12-17)

To be the friend of God is the greatest friendship of all

What do we need to know or do to be the friend of God? How should we behave? What customs should we keep? What do we give and put into a friendship with the supreme Creator of man and all that we can see and know in the universe around us? And how wonderful would it be to have God Himself say that you are “The Friend of God?”

Surprisingly it is not that hard a thing to be the friend of God. God created man to be a social being and to want to have friends and be a friend. God is also a God of relationships. He desires to be in relationship with us, and it is His hope and desire that man will choose to be in a relationship with Him.

And friendship is a very special form of relationship, as we will see in this section of scripture. There are many ways we can be in a relationship with God: servant, disciple, follower, convert and even His enemies are in a relationship with Him…but not a good one and not one that will have a positive outcome for them! But to be a friend of God is a wonderful and powerful relationship as we will see.

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How to Love Jesus

(John 14:18-24)

love and obedience
Love and Obedience
How to love Jesus

Many Christians say that they love the Lord and that they love Jesus, but often they are talking from emotion. The love they describe is based on feelings. In this section we are taught how to love Jesus, not through feelings and emotions, but through obedience.

If we want to love Jesus and love God we need to understand how to love Jesus in the manner He prescribes. And the basis of how to love Jesus is found in obedience.

The key to love even on this earth is not about what we want or think or feel towards another, but long-lasting love is based upon how we relate to another person the way THEY want. We love the way they want to be loved and this too is a form of obedience. Let’s look at this some more.

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