What Great Love

Following is an English transcript of the message from this morning.

In Chapter 14 of Romans, we were taught to live in love with one another, particularly with other believers who are not from the same culture or practice as we have. The focus in that chapter was not to make a big discussion out of things that don’t matter but are merely items of opinion. Rather, we were taught to focus on obedience to the Lord and love to others.

In Chapter 15, Paul is beginning to close out his letter. Here in the beginning he gives some reasons for the love we are to have for each other. It is not that we are simply to obey because there is a list of rules to follow, but there is a greater reason behind it.

Let’s read Romans 15:1-13

“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.

For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.”

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.

Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them.

That is what the psalmist meant when he wrote: “For this, I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing praises to your name.” And in another place it is written, “Rejoice with his people, you Gentiles.” And yet again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles. Praise him, all you people of the earth.” And in another place Isaiah said, “The heir to David’s throne will come, and he will rule over the Gentiles. They will place their hope on him.”

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:1-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

If we know a brother has a conscience for or against a thing, and it is not a matter of disobedience, we should be considerate of him. We do not live simply to please ourselves. In fact, our mission is to help others and to build them up in the Lord.

Why? Who is our King, our Master, our Perfect Example? Jesus. And though He is Lord over all, even He did not live to please Himself. I want to read a few passages that show us some of how Jesus lived for others.

Matthew 4:23-25, 5:1

“Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.

News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all.

Large crowds followed him wherever he went—people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River.

One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:23–5:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As Jesus traveled throughout the land, preaching in all the meeting houses that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, great multitudes of people gathered to follow him, eager to hear his message of truth. When Jesus saw the multitudes gathered, He stopped and gave the sermon on the mount, which we find in chapters 5-7 of Matthew.

We see in Matthew 8:1 that the multitudes continued to follow Him. As He traveled down from the mountain, more and more sick and hurting people found him. Though He was tired from his travels and his teaching, he took time for all of them.

They went to Peter’s house, we read in Matthew 8:14. I assume Jesus was still looking for a place to sit down away from the multitudes, but the people followed Him even there. He healed many sick and cast out demons. The multitudes continued to come, so Jesus told His disciples in verse 18 to leave by ship to another place.

We read an interesting exchange between Jesus and a man in this section. Matthew 8:18-20.

“When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he instructed his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake.

Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.””

Matthew‬ ‭8:18-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus acknowledged that He had no place to rest. He had work to do, serving others. At last they were on the sea, headed away from the multitudes, but then a terrible storm arose. The disciples were scared for their lives, but Jesus slept on, perhaps exhausted from all His service to others. At last he had found rest, but they woke Him, and He commanded the storm to pass.

The ship arrived at another land, where they were met by men with demons. Jesus cast out the demons who then entered into swine, causing them to kill themselves. So, the people there demanded Jesus leave. He didn’t even have time to rest before they were back on the ship.

In Chapter 9, He arrived at His hometown, and there met more multitudes of people waiting to be healed and to hear his preaching. In just those few chapters, we can follow Jesus day after day as He gives all His time to bless others. He did look for rest because His human body needed it, but when people came needing help, He somehow put aside His own needs and put others first.

There are many more examples like these. Jesus gave and gave and gave. This is the example he left us. In Romans 15:5, Paul prays that God would give the believers the same mind as Jesus had. In verse 6, he says that as a result of having the same mind, we can bring glory to God with unity.

In verse 7, he again draws our attention to Jesus as our example. He says we are to receive others in the same manner that Christ received us. Recall that we are Gentiles. We were not of God’s chosen people the Jews. We are not of the family of Abraham or the family of David. Yet God chose to provide a way for us through Jesus. While we were yet in sin, Jesus gave His life for us. That is how great His love is for us.

Can we love others with that same love? This is the conclusion of all his teaching. If we can attain to that level of love through new life in Jesus, we will be complete.

To give us an idea of the sort of love we are to mirror, I want to read Luke 15. There are three stories here that Jesus told to show His love for us.

“Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?

And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it?

And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’

In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.

He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.

His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. ’

“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on.

‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:1-32‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus was criticized for eating with sinners, but His response was to show that is why He came. He came to love those who were unlovely. How could He have led sinners to God unless He first befriended them and loved them? How could they have learned the way of love unless they had first been loved?

This is the challenge for us believers. We are to love others before they love us. We love even when there is no promise of being loved in return. We love the world because Christ first loved us.

We have only the conclusion of the Book of Romans left to look at. I considered skipping over it, considering that it is the personal greetings of Paul to particular believers in Rome. But I think there are lessons for us to learn as we read between the lines. We will conclude the Book with the next message.

Until then, walk in love as Christ has loved you.