Edited: May 7, 2018
날짜: 2018년 4월 22일
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올리브연합감리교회 김배선 목사
20180422 Sunday worship preaching
Romans 13:8-14 “Love and Discipline”
From Romans Chapter 12, we will continue to learn more about how Christians should live in this world.
As God’s people who are called according to his purpose, we need to pay close attention on how we are living in our daily lives.
Last Sunday we talked about obedience and honesty.
Today, I would like to share about two more things.
It is about love and discipline.
At first glance, these two concepts seem to be in contrast with each other; when we think of love, we have a feeling of peace, forgiveness and compassion, however, when we think about discipline, we feel something challenging.
In the Bible, Jesus often combined and emphasized two conflicting ideas into one.
In Matthews 10:16 Jesus told the disciples to be “shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
Here, Jesus suggested these two conflicting ideas and said that they both need to be the characteristics of Christians.
According to Jesus, we need to be pure as doves and decisive as snakes at the same time.
Having both characteristics will make us an effective Christian.
Pastor Lloyd Johns, who has a huge influence on Christianity once said to other pastors,
“Please be like lion when preaching, but like a sheep when you are not. Please love a soul unconditionally but also be cool head when guiding a soul…”
It means that pastors need the characteristics of both the lion and sheep at the same time to be effective.
They need to speak with fire on the pulpit with conviction, but they also need to be kind and humble like sheep, once they step down from the pulpit.
This story is not just applied to the pastors, but rather to all Christians.
A Christian needs to be like a tough warrior when he is fighting evil and sin, but he also needs to be able to cry with others and for other souls.
Today, let me repeat, we are talking about love and discipline.
First let’s look at verse 8 to 10, where Paul is talking about how to love.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
All these verses can be summed up in one word.
That is to love others.
If you love someone, you would not cheat, hurt, abuse or violate that person.
You will not steal from the person you love.
There seems to be so many laws in the bible, but love includes and encompasses them all; that’s why Paul says love is fulfillment of the law.
Yes, love is the basis for all commandments; it is the most crucial piece of the bible.
If you lack love, there would be nothing left in Christianity.
Only love can give you peace and fulfillment.
People can seem like they have everything they need, but may still feel empty on the inside.
That is because there is no love in their minds.
If you lack love, all the money, honor and power you have mean nothing and your heart will be hallow.
And you will continue to struggle in life trying to fill that heart with something.
A while ago in my past, I used to visit an orphanage in Seoul on a regular basis.
That Orphanage was pretty famous and well supported.
The orphans here were better fed and dressed than the children from average family households whom had moms and dads.
However, when you meet them in person, their faces seemed unhappy.
I believe it was because they weren’t loved as they should have been.
What’s important is not how you dress or what you eat.
It is about how much you’re being loved.
The fact of matter is, we can’t live without being loved.
When you’re loved, you feel alive and confident.
When you’re not loved, you feel insufficient.
St. Augustine once said, “Love God alone with all your heart, and do whatever you wish with the rest.”
If you love God, you will obey his commandments.
If you love God, you can’t leave from his fellowship.
If you love God, you will devote yourself for his service.
Yes, love is the centerpiece of them all, and to all our problems and questions.
After Jesus resurrected from death, he asked Peter three times, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Peter answered, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
After Jesus confirmed Peter’s heart for him, he commanded Peter to “feed my sheep.”
Peter’s love for Jesus was enough for him to commission Peter.
Jesus made it plain and simple, “all I require of you is to love me”.
Then how can we love?
Let’s look at ways to love.
If you look at verse 8, it said “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
The main point of this verse is not about being in debt, but it is about love, if you flip this around, he is basically saying to live by being in debt of love.
In other words, Christians need to owe as much debt as possible in terms of love.
There are two types of people in this world.
First, people who love.
Second, people who do not give or receive love.
The second type of person likes to rely on no one, owe no one and wants to live by himself, saying “I will not give or receive love from no one, I’m self-reliant and on my own, I won’t give or receive anything from anyone”
People who say such things are very proud people.
In John 13, when Jesus was about to wash Peter’s feet, Peter refused and said “Lord you shall never wash my feet.”
Then, Jesus responded “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
What does this mean?
If you don’t receive Jesus’ love, you have nothing to do with Jesus.
How can we define Christians?
Are Christians believers of Jesus Christ?
Are Christians those who love Jesus Christ?
Yes, this is all correct; however, before we are people who love Jesus, we are people who are loved by Jesus first.
Why have we become Christians?
It is because we received Jesus’ love.
Jesus’ love prompt us to go out to the world, preach his gospel and share his love.
In Romans 1:14, Paul identified himself as someone who are owed and obligated.
He was obligated in grace and in love.
He received so much love from Jesus and experienced amazing grace from him.
Jesus’ love and grace were the driving power behind Paul’s missions.
Paul was able to endure persecution and hardships because he was forgiven and loved so much.
Because Paul was forgiven in such amazing circumstances, he was deeply touched by God’s love and his gratitude drove him into action.
We owe God the same gratitude Paul owed.
We were once sinners, but forgiven.
Begotten as children of God by his amazing grace.
We also need to live like we are obligated and owed in love and grace.
Remember that a person who doesn’t want to give or receive love is the most proud man on this earth.
I want to share another story with you, a woman lost two legs due to a car accident.
She told her husband to leave her and find a new life.
Her husband was mad at her for even saying that.
Confessed his unchanging love to her and said that he will be there for her through it all.
However, not long after, this woman committed suicide because she didn’t want to be a burden.
I think she didn’t truly love her husband and that she was a very selfish woman.
Because she didn’t know how to receive love and she didn’t think about the pain and hurt her family would go through.
It is important to give love but also to receive love.
Without humility we can never receive love.
Pride usually gets in the way, and people don’t want to feel like they need someone.
Christians should be different.
We need to be able to receive love from others and to feel vulnerable at times.
And we also need to ask for help, and ask to be loved.
This kind of person will experience God’s grace and live life through God’s power.
I want all of you be able to give love but also to receive love.
Second thing in this passage I want to share and discuss is that we need to discipline ourselves.
Let’s look at verse 11 and 14
“And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
In verse 11, Paul says, “the hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber.”
This can also mean that there are so many temptations in this world to prompt us to be in slumber.
Christians need to wake up and be alerted when in this world because the enemy is always trying to make us fall.
This is why we need to discipline ourselves on a daily basis and do our best to stay holy.
This is the only way we can prevent ourselves from falling into Satan’s tactics.
Then how can we discipline ourselves and stay awake?
First, we need to be able to see darkness.
We are living in a chaotic world, the world full of sin, lie, and confusion.
This is why we need to ask God to grant us the spiritual eyes to discern what’s right and wrong.
Here’s another story, a blind man is walking with his lantern on at night, since he can’t see, he wants others to identify his lantern and avoid him.
This was a wise thing to do.
Then a stranger bumped into him one day, and this blind man was angry and said, “I was carrying this lantern so you can avoid me. Why can’t you see?”
Then the stranger replied “your lantern was out long ago.”
Christians need to be able to see even in darkness.
When you are able to recognize darkness then you can be alerted and ready.
Prophets in the old testaments were the people who were able to discern and see through darkness.
For example, Jeremiah was able to foresee the destruction that was coming to Jerusalem and sought after God.
He cried and urged the Israelites to repent.
He told them “you must turn from sin; as long as darkness persist in this land you will be destroyed.”
He had eyes to discern and see darkness.
Perhaps this is the spiritual gift we need to ask from God in order to live through such confusing and dark times.
Secondly, we need to recognize that darkness is passing and morning is coming.
It is said that the night is darkest just before the dawn.
When things are dark, we also need to know that the dawn is coming.
When times are dark and corrupted, God’s salvation and transformation is just around the corner.
We’re living in spiritual darkness.
Many people say that church has collapsed and there is no hope for Christianity.
However, people who believe in God’s promise should not despair.
It is just another indication that God is taking over the situation where men have failed.
Christians should be able to look at things from a different perspective.
I want all of you to have this perspective and see that God is working in you, even in your darkest hours.
Third, we need to watch our actions and behave decently.
When we explain verse 13, it basically means that we need to discipline ourselves and watch our actions carefully because the end is near.
We need to be extra careful not to lose our faith.
Have you ever fished crabs?
I’ve been told that there are places where you can catch crabs on the North Shore.
I heard that catching crabs were very easy.
You basically take a basket and bury it at the beach even-leveled to the ground.
Then you throw a few chicken legs in there, and crabs smell them and fall into the basket.
Why can’t they get out from the basket?
Some may say it is because the basket is made of iron and is too slippery.
However, the truth is that every crab in the basket are trying to get out all at the same time, they prevent each other from escaping by pushing and shoving one another.
This resembles our very own society.
When someone is about to succeed, others pull him down and make him fall.
When somebody is about to succeed in something, people feel jealous and plot against that person.
In this world, how are we to live like Christians?
We need to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others in all circumstances.
We need to decrease so others can increase; we need to lay ourselves down on the ground as stepping stones for others to be successful.
Yes, Jesus Christ came down his throne, gave up everything he had, and offered himself as the living sacrifice for the sake of us.
We are to live like Jesus.
In James Chapter 3, it says, “envy and selfish ambition are earthly, unspiritual and come from the devil…”
If we are envious and seek after our own ambition, causing us to fight and compete with others, those desires are not coming from God.
Shouldn’t we Christians be different than others?
Then how should we live?
We need to give love and receive love in this loveless world.
And we need to be disciplined and focused in this dark and corrupted world.
I hope that you will be set apart from this world as God’s holy people and be holy in your daily walks with God.
I bless these things over you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.