I Won't Back Down - Romans 12:9-21 - Nate Heitzig
You gotta hear this song.
Everybody said it. Everybody's heard it. It doesn't matter what age you are, certain songs just have that timeless quality, and so do certain biblical truths. And just like every generation discovers these songs, every generation needs to discover these truths. Mixtape, Fresh Perspective on Timeless Truths.
Well, good morning. Welcome to Calvary Church, and Happy Father's Day. Who's excited to be in the house today, celebrating with family?
Well, pre-mark your Bibles to Romans 12:9-20 for a Father's Day message I've titled I Won't Back Down. And as I was preparing this message, thinking through this, I was reflecting on being a father personally, and on my desires for my kids-- the desire that my kids would grow up to live healthy godly lives. And the reality that every single father-- really every single parent, we want what's best for our kids, don't we?
Want them to grow up and live full and satisfying lives. We want them to experience joy in the highs of lives-- in the highs of their lives, but we also desire to be close to them, to hold them close, to comfort them, to warn them in the lows of life. And with that, I believe, comes a set of rules that must be followed.
And I found that any healthy family unit, any healthy relationship with your kids, there has to be a set of rules in order for them to live by. In order for your kids to grow up to be the best that they can be, in order for your kids to grow up and live satisfying lives, there has to be a set of rules, a set of non-negotiables that they must follow.
As a matter of fact, when your kids abide by those rules, they find freedom and truly begin to enjoy life. Don't believe me? Just look at families who don't have rules. Anyone ever seen those families that they let their kids do whatever they want, just run amok, and do whatever they want, and say whatever they want? Do those people look like they're really enjoying life? Do those kids look like they're really enjoying life?
Because every parent knows that there has to be structure in order for there to be relationship. But every parent also knows that there are some rules that are flexible, especially with dads. Come on, dads. Can we be honest that we love breaking the rules, especially for our kids? Maybe I should be asking the moms. Moms, don't we know that dads love breaking the rules, right?
When mom's out of town, all the rules fly out the window, don't they? And I think that that's because dads love being the fun one, don't we? We love being the one that the kids have fun with-- that the kids can't wait for dad to get home, because they know that dad's going to spoil them, dad's going to let them do things that mom wouldn't let them do. But if you notice that, when mom goes out of town, even if it's just for a couple hours, all the rules fly out the window.
There's unlimited TV and video game time. Pizza is for dinner every single night, and for breakfast, and for lunch, and all the boxes stand the countertop until mom gets home. If the kids get a little too hard to deal with, dad, the answer is always ice cream. I promise you, it's this secret thing. If the kids are getting hard, ice cream fixes everything.
When mom's out of town, bedtime becomes an abstract conceptual idea at best, and it can change at any time. If the kids are good, they can stay up as late as they want. If the kids get a little bit too hard to deal with, bedtime is at 6 o'clock. Kids, I think it's bedtime. It's only 6 o'clock. Yep, it changed. Bedtime's now at 6 o'clock. Jumping on beds and wrestling in the living room becomes an Olympic sport, and the prize is a broken lamp. All the linens, all the towels simply become tools and material for the best fort ever.
Dad's love being the fun guy. They love being the guy that the kids want to hang out with. And we really like to break the rules. Come on, dads, can you agree with me on this? We are notorious for breaking the rules. I guess I'm the only one. OK, there we go. There's some honesty.
But as fun as a dad can be, every kid knows that there are some rules that can never be broken. There are some things in every single home that are non-negotiables. Does any family and hear of any non-negotiables, any rules in your home that your kids know they can't break? They know that, if they do that thing, all hell's going to break loose. There's no argument. There's no gray area.
If they even think about breaking those rules, they're going to get in trouble. And those rules have to be abided by, if those kids want to stay in that home. Some of those rules in our house is that you respect your mom. I always tell my kids, she was my wife way before she was your mother, so you show some respect when you talk to my wife. You can't use any foul language. That's another one.
Don't hit your sister. Don't talk back. We go to church together, if we're in town together-- especially on Father's Day. And my kids know that I won't back down on these things. And you might have some others in your life. And while dad might be fun, and while certain things might be able to flex a little bit, my kids know that, if they don't abide by these rules, dad can bring the heat just as quickly as dad can bring the fun.
And I think it's important for a kid to know that. I think it's important for there to be structure within the home, and for each family to have a set of these non-negotiables. Because they're not there to make life miserable, but rather the opposite. They're there because, if children abide by these rules, their lives will be better for it. Because once your kids know that there's certain things set in stone, they can begin to work within those rules and truly enjoy life, and build a better relationship with you and with God.
The people that I look at to have the best relationship with their kids, both when their kids are young and older, are people who, yes, they were fun, yes, they enjoyed life, but they had a set of rules, a set of non-negotiables, a code that the family lived by. It's those who didn't have a code, those who didn't have rules, those who didn't have structure-- those are the people who end up later on in life having a strained relationship with their children.
Well, today, we're going to look at an intensely practical section in the book of Romans. The first 11 chapter of Romans-- and we're going through that right now in heart and soul-- are all about what God has done for us. But here in Romans 12, it signifies a change, and it shows what our response to Him should be. And Romans 12 reads like a set of exhortations that are almost like a series of Proverbs.
And here in Romans 12:9-21, we come to God's non-negotiables. These are the things that, in this family, the family of God, the body of Christ-- these are the things that our father has set as non-negotiables. They're the things that He says, I won't back down from these things. And if you do these things, if you abide by these principles and these rules, you are going to enjoy life and live in better relationship with Me.
And so I believe that these rules, these non-negotiables shouldn't just be God's non-negotiables, shouldn't just be the non-negotiables is for the body of Christ, but they should be our family's non-negotiables. They should be your family's non-negotiables. And I believe that, if we lead our families based on these principles found here in Romans 12, I believe that our families, our church, and our city will be better because of it.
I believe that, if we abide by these principles and teach our kids to do the same, that they're going to grow up to have better and stronger relationships with Jesus. They're going to have more success in their endeavors and their careers. They're going to have better friendships and longer-lasting relationships with other people, and they're going to have a more positive outlook on life and a greater joy in life, no matter whether the highs or lows come.
Does that sound like something you want for your kids, for your family, for your relationships? No? Do you guys want to live miserable lives in despondency and little success? No, come on, guys. Your energy level right now is a little bit over 8:00 AM. I need you guys to be up here. Do you guys want that for your families? Do you guys want lasting relationships, deep relationships? Do you want to see your kids succeed at what they put their hand to? Do you want to see them have a positive outlook on life, no matter what comes their way?
So today, I exhort you, let's each and every one of us-- fathers, mothers, children-- let's choose to be the leader that God has called us to be. Let's look at life, let's look at parenting in the eyes, and let's say, with boldness and fire in our bellies, I won't back down. I'm called to this. This is what God has called me and equipped me to do, and so I'm going to rise to the occasion. There are things I'm not going to back down. On I'm going to lead my family well.
Today we're going to see three things, three non-negotiables, three things that, if you put into practice in your relationships and your families, they will change the way that you live. Number one is that we are to be dedicated to the Lord. Number two is that we are to be determined to live passionately. And number three is that we will be disciplined to love relentlessly. Let's look at our text and see our first point, we are to be dedicated to the Lord.
Look at Romans chapter 12 starting in verse 9. "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to that which is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love in honor, giving preference to one another." Here we see our first point, the first non-negotiable, the first step to us cultivating a strong relationship within our family, and that is that we are to be dedicated to the Lord.
The first non-negotiable we're supposed to have for ourselves and our families is that, as for me in my house, we will serve the Lord. And this is so important, as we've been looking at for the past couple of weeks, this idea of loving God, of keeping God chief, center, on the throne of your life-- that as we do that, we begin to learn how to love others properly. Remember last week, we talked about that, if we love God with all of our heart, our soul, and our mind, the natural outgrowth of that will be to love others the way God has called us to love them.
So therefore, in order to be dedicated to your families, you must first be dedicated to the Lord. Who wants to be dedicated to your family? What fathers in here want to be there for your kids, be there for your wife, you want to be dedicated to your families, you want to see your families thrive? You can never be dedicated to your family the way that God has called you to be, unless you are first and foremost dedicated to the Lord. The first step to every family, the bedrock to creating a firm foundation for your family, for your spouse, for your kids to grow in is that you are dedicated to Jesus.
Look at verse 9. It says, "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil." And as we talked about, this love for others, this love for God-- really, our love for others is the outflow of our love for God. And I want to point out this doesn't come naturally. It comes supernaturally. There are days when you wake up and naturally, you don't want to show love to the people you're supposed to. There are days when your kids do something really, really, really dumb, and naturally, you want to ride them on that. You want to really just talk about that, and push it in their face, and you really want to get angry.
That's the natural response, but the supernatural response is different than the natural response. The love that we're supposed to have for others is an outgrowth of the supernatural love that God will pour into our lives. As we abide in Him, this love for others is the fruit of that relationship. Paul, in the classic chapter on love in 1 Corinthians 13 says, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all that I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."
See, love needs to be at the center of our homes. Our kids, our spouses, the people we care most about need to know, first and foremost, that we love them, and more importantly than that, we love God, that we are dedicated to God. And as we show them through our actions that we are dedicated to God, the dedication to our families will follow suit. And this love that we're supposed to have for God and for others is to be without hypocrisy.
Now, what does that mean? Well, the word used for hypocrite is one that would have been readily understood in this culture, and it's one that we can understand as well, and it spoke of a Greek actor. Now, in order to understand this, you have to understand Greek theater a little bit. Greek theater didn't have background, or scenery, or costumes. There was no special effects. There was no pyrotechnics. There was no one on a computer adding in things via green screen.
Rather, everything had to be depicted by the actor . And the way that they would do that as the actors would carry masks, and these masks were made with different expressions on each mask so the audience could clearly see if the character was depicting an emotion of a tragic, a comic, or a melodramatic. And so the actor would walk about stage holding these masks, and occasionally they would lift the mask to their face to show the audience the emotion they wanted to convey.
So in context, what Paul is saying is that a true believer can't wear masks. A true believer must be absolutely truthful. See, scripture tells us not to love merely in word, but in deed and truth. Donald Barnhouse said, true love has to leave the stage and walk the paths of real life. Dads, moms, children, can I exhort you to not just love God in word, but to love God in deed and in truth? Can I let you know that no one can sniff out hypocrisy and a false sense of spirituality than kids?
When you say one thing in church, when you lead your family by coming to church, and you sing songs, but then go home and say something that lives in the exact opposite of what you've been trying to tell them at church, they see that. They see through, that hypocrisy, that mask that you put on. And that affects them.
We need to be families that are truly dedicated to the Lord, not just in word, but in deed and in truth-- that we don't just say something, we don't just practice something here at church, but we go home, and in our families, in our homes, we live it, it's evident-- that our kids can look at our lives and say, my parents are dedicated to God. They love God with all their heart, their soul, and their mind, and that leads them to be dedicated to our family, as well.
That when we get in a fight with our spouse, we're mindful of what we say in front of our kids-- that when we're watching that game and our favorite team doesn't play the play the way that they were supposed to do, and we want to say all those bad words really, really, really bad, that we bite our tongue, and we're mindful that we watch what we say in front of those impressionable minds that God has given to us to nurture and to raise.
Really, the outgrowth of this is verse 9. It continues, "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil." Now, this goes hand-in-hand with loving without hypocrisy. And this is really what it means to be dedicated to the Lord. This will be a natural outgrowth of dedication to God. And that is that for love to be pure love, it has to look like God's love. And God loves good and hates evil.
Did you know that hatred is actually a Christian virtue? And you say, well, wait a second, that doesn't sound right. As a matter of fact, we don't use the word hate within our homes. That's one of our non-negotiables. That's one of our rules and standards. We don't use the word hate, but hate is a Christian virtue. And you say, wait a second, I know love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long suffering.
Hatred's not on that list, but hatred is a Christian virtue. Hatred is an attribute of God. God hates hypocrisy. God hates false religiosity. God hates sin, and God certainly hates evil. Isaiah 1:14 says, "I hate the hypocrisy"-- this is God speaking-- "I hate the hypocrisy of your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts. They have become a burden to me. I am weary of burying them."
He's speaking of ritual without relationship. Again, if you come to church, sing the songs, say that you're a Christian, tell your kids you have to go to church, but then go home and act like you never heard a thing that was said, and act like you don't know anything the Bible says, that is ritual without relationship. That is new moon festivals, and sacrifices, and offerings.
And God sees that, and He says, if there's not relationship behind it, if it doesn't change the way you live your lives, you conduct your families, you treat your kids, you treat your spouse, you treat the people that you come into contact with-- if it doesn't change the way you live, all it is hypocrisy. The greatest weakness of the Church today is that we have such a tolerance for evil.
Some Christians are far too tolerant with evil in the world and the church today, but if you love God with all your heart and you love your neighbor and your fellow Christians, you're naturally going to hate that which is evil, because evil tarnishes the relationship that we have with God. Evil tarnishes the relationship you have with your spouse. Evil tarnishes the relationship you're supposed to have with your kids. Evil tarnishes the relationship you're supposed to have with others.
And so because we're dedicated to the Lord, that leads us to be dedicated to our families, and we hate, we abhor that which is evil, because we don't want it to tarnish those that we love the most. Moms, you look at what's on the box when you grocery shop, right? You look at what's in the food that you prepare that you feed your kids? You want to make sure it's nourishing, that you're giving them a well-balanced meal.
You don't just put a thing of Spam on a plate and say, here you go, enjoy. Well, is there anything else? Nope, that's it. Again, dads are notorious for pizza every night of the week, if moms are gone. Moms are notorious for making sure that their kids are well-nourished. Dads, the job falls on you to look on the backs of the box that you're the things that your kids are putting into their minds spiritually and emotionally.
The content your kids consume, the music they listen to, the friends they spend time with, the movies they watch, the places they go-- your responsibility's to look on the back of the box and make sure that what they're putting into their system is well-balanced, that it is nutritious, that it is acceptable for righteousness to build them up, to bring within them the knowledge of God.
We need to abhor that which is evil, cling to that which is good. Make sure we're building our families up, building our houses up upon righteousness, dedicated to the Lord, and then dedicated to our families. Abhor could be translated be constantly hating that which is evil. We need to understand that evil is something that can't be tolerated at any level. We have to hate it with a passion.
But the problem is we've become so jaded, so passive and accepting of it all to the point that we're not even spotted and abhorring sin, when it's in our own midst. See, what was wrong 10 years ago isn't wrong today. What was wrong 20 years ago wasn't wrong 10 years ago. It's constantly changing, and so we have to have that set of absolutes-- we talked about this the first week-- the absolutes that God gives us
that is the line that we draw. That is the line that we say, if it crosses this line, it's evil, and I'm not going to allow it into my home. We have to be mindful of the people our kids want to spend time with, the friends that they have, that they bring home, the people that they date, the people that they spend time with, the people that you're allowing a voice into their lives. We have to be mindful of that.
We have to recognize what that is, because if we're not careful, it can seep in to our own midst, and we don't even realize it. I'm actually an advocate of sending kids to public school because I think it's important for them to learn to defend their faith. Christian school is also good. It's good to have other believers around, but if, as parents, we send our kids to school and then expect the school system to take care of them and raise them, we're missing the mark.
Even if they're going to a Christian school, if you expect that Christian school to be the basis for their knowledge of God, you're missing the mark. When they go to school and they hear things that are said, they hear the professors talking, if when they come home, you're not having conversations with them about what they're hearing, what they're exposed to, you might be exposing them inadvertently to evil, and they might not grow up to have a firm understanding and knowledge of God unless you take that initiative that God has called you to, and you raise them the way that God has called you to.
The Christianity that many subscribe to today is no more than a cheap rip-off of the real thing. I read a story online titled "Fake Apple Store fools even the staff," and the article states, "Chinese counterfeiters have had a field day pumping out knockoffs of Apple's best-selling iPhones and iPads, but one appears to have gone a step further-- the near flawless fake Apple Store that even employees believe is the real deal. Complete with white Apple logos, wooden tables, and cheery staff claiming they work for the iPhone maker, the store looks every bit like Apple stores found all over the world."
But according to Apple on their website, there's no Apple Stores in this province in China. The store in Kunming was stumbled upon by a 27-year-old American blogger, and he says, and I quote, "This was a total Apple Store rip-off-- a beautiful rip-off, a brilliant rip-off, the best rip-off store we had ever seen. And being the curious types that we are, we struck up a conversation with these sales people who"-- hand to God-- "all genuinely think they work for Apple."
Some people become so accepting of sin within the church and their homes, they can no longer spot it. They've become so used to the fake Christianity, they don't even know the difference anymore. One quote in that story really caught my attention, struck a chord with my heart. It said, "This was a total Apple Store rip-off-- a beautiful rip-off, a brilliant one, the best rip-off store we had ever seen."
But everyone knows a rip-off is still a rip-off, no matter how you spin it. You can be a beautiful rip-off Christian. You can be a brilliant rip-off Christian. You can be the best rip-off Christian that anyone has ever seen. But at the end of the day, if you're a rip-off, you're still a rip-off. Many churches today are just rip-offs of the real deal.
They have different sections devoted to different ministries. They have large posters and big events promoting different things. And the people that go to and work at these establishments can-- hand to God, all genuinely think they work for God. But sadly, at their heart, they're just a rip-off, so used to the fake thing that they no longer know what's real anymore. Let me ask you a question.
Can you listen to a filthy story that your friends are telling without blushing? Can you go in public and hear people cursing or using the Lord's name in vain, and not cringe? Do you find yourself comfortable among those whose lifestyles are characterized by the very things that displease God? Proverbs 8:13 says, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, pride, and arrogance, and the evil way and the perverse mouth do I hate."
Jude 1:20-23 says, "And on some have compassion, making a distinction, but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh." Judas saying that, when you go into the world to reach someone for Christ, you have to have a healthy fear of the things that have been defiled by the worldly system. You have to carefully rescue some people, individuals headed for Hell, lest you get burned in the process.
That's a really serious warning. And see, we, as adults, have a better filter. We have the ability to discern things. We have the ability, because of maturity, to see things and be more careful at that process. But when we send our kids out into the lost and broken world, they don't have that same discernment, that same maturity, and so they can get so close to the evil in society they don't realize that it's infiltrating their own lives, and they're getting burned in the process.
That's our job. God has called us to do that for them, until they get to the age where they can do that for themselves. We need to be careful, lest they get burned in the process. So we hate sin, because we know how destructive it can be. Lot is a perfect example of a man who is compromised by the ungodly people around him. He didn't choose to fall into sin, he just got comfortable around it. He just got so used to being around those people that he didn't realize what happened.
Aaron stands as another man who went with the crowd, instead of the Lord. And we often think that God only hates that which is vile, and wicked, and outwardly dark, but God also hates our religious games, as well. Isaiah 1:12, I read a little bit of it before. The whole verse says this, "When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings.
Your new moon festivals, your appointed feasts my soul hates. They become a burden to me. I am weary of them. So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you. Even if you offer many prayers, I won't listen. Your hands are full of blood. Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight. Stop doing wrong. Learn to do right. Seek justice. Encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless. Plead the case of the widow."
Notice how God is more interested in the practical than in our parades. We can come and parade ourselves, and say prayers, and sing songs, but if we're not going home and living it before those that we care about most, it's meaningless. And God says, if you do that, I don't want to hear your praise, I don't want to hear your worship, I don't want to hear your prayers. I don't even want to listen to them. I'm going to turn my eyes from them.
God hates our elaborate praise and worship, if it doesn't practically affect us in the real world. Praise and worship is good, but it's got to affect the way that we live. Verse 9 says, "Cling to that which is good." This is a word that means to stick with glue. The same word used of a marriage bond. And so in that context, it means to stick to that which is good, to don't ever leave it until the day that you die.
See, some people falsely believe that the Bible is nothing more than an endless list of don'ts, rules, noes, regulations. And though it's true that God warns us about what can be harmful to us, it's equally as true that, whenever he tells us not to do something, he tells us what to do instead. Parents, can we take a lesson from the word of God?
Some kids are so used to hearing the word no and what not to do that that's all they're ever told. They're only ever told when they fail, when they mess up, what they shouldn't do, that it becomes a burden and a weigh that they feel they can never exceed past. They feel that they can never do what's right. They can never please their parents.
Our kids need to hear the word yes and good job just as much as they hear the word no and stop. They need to know what they do well. So if they have friends that are bad for them, sure, tell them not to have those friends. But when they bring around friends that are good for them and that encourage them, you encourage them to have those friends over more often. When they mess up and do something they shouldn't do, sure, tell them they shouldn't do that. Tell them to stop. But when they do something good, when they display biblical truths naturally, encourage that, water that, so it grows into a full beautiful blossoming flower.
Our job isn't just to say no, but it's to say well done. 2 Timothy 2:22 says, "Flee youthful lusts, but to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace." Finally, verse 10 shows us the byproduct of what happens when we are dedicated to the Lord. If we are dedicated to the Lord, we will be dedicated to others.
Verse 10-- q kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love." Or a literal translation could be lovingly loving to one another with loving love. You think Paul wants to get across the idea that we're supposed to love each other? And then he continues on. He says, "In honor, preferring one another"-- in the church, and in life in general, we are always looking to meet our own needs, but it is so crucial and critical-- and parents all know this-- that at times, we die to ourselves, and we live for someone else's needs.
In the church, and in life in general, we come to church expecting to be ministered to. And though there's nothing wrong with that, and we should be ministered to, in one sense, in another, we should also come to church seeking to minister to others, as well. The same is true of relationships. If you enter the relationship solely interested in how your partner can meet your needs and wants, you're going to be greatly disappointed, and you will also be a great disappointment to others.
Philippians 2:1 says, "In loneliness of mind, let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own thoughts, but also in the things of others." So number one, we need to be dedicated to the Lord. And as we are dedicated to the Lord, that will lead us to our next point-- that next non-negotiable is that we would be determined to live passionately-- determined to live passionately.
Look at verse 11. It says, "Not lagging and diligence, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." The King James version translates that as, not slothful in business. Martin Luther said, be not lazy as to what you ought to do. Now, this is really primarily speaking of our service to the Lord, though it could easily be taken to apply to everything we do.
Now, every dad should love this. Every dad should get this, because whoever grew up hearing their dad tell them to stop being lazy, to get up and work, to get a job, to do something? Every dad should love this idea because quitters never win, and winners never-- come on, somebody. I need some dads to help me preach this message to the next generation m because it's OK if you fall down, it's OK if you strike out, it's OK if you mess up, as long as you get back up and you try again.
So stop complaining about the booboo on your knee, and get back on that bike, and keep riding, because winners never quit. We never quit in this house and say, man, let's go. Come on, we never quit. We keep trying. We keep pushing. We keep hustling. We keep working. On a side note, have you ever noticed how competitive and serious dads view the sports that their kids play? Go to a kids baseball game, and the kids won't be that competitive, but the dads it's another story.
They get into it. They're getting in fights with each other, yelling at the umpire, getting super frustrated and mad. And that's because we want to see our kids succeed. We want to see our kids win. I remember the first tee ball game that I went to for Seth. I was shocked when I saw that there was no scoreboard. And I asked another dad, I was like, hey, why is there no scoreboard?
He said-- he had a couple of kids go through tee ball-- well, they don't keep score in this league. There's no winners and there's no losers. And in that very moment, I pulled my phone out and found an app to start keeping score for kids Little League games. And I determined that I would be the scorekeeper, if they didn't want to have one. And so after the first game, Seth got in the car, and I said, Seth, congratulations on winning your first game. And he said, well, dad, they didn't keep score.
And I said, I did. Even if they don't keep score I did. And after every game, you come in this car and you ask me who won or who lost, and I'll tell you the truth, because in life, there are winners and there are losers. And even if they won't tell you that, I will. But at the end of the day-- and I told said this-- I don't care if you win or lose. I don't care if you strike out, as long as you try.
You can get up and strike out, and that's fine. But if I see you in the outfield picking dandelions and chasing butterflies, we're going to have some issues, because we never quit. We try. We work hard. We hustle. And understand this-- spiritual laziness is the cause of spiritual defeat. If you find yourself at a place of loss in your spiritual life, you're stuck in sin, you've fallen down, it's probably because earlier on, you were spiritually lazy, and you didn't do that which you needed to do to grow spiritually.
Many Christian men spend more time shaving, brushing their teeth, and pumping iron for physical growth than they do focusing on spiritual growth. Some Christian women spend more time putting on makeup than they do putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. But guess what, ladies? Unlike the outside, you can actually fix the inside, if you try. And it doesn't matter how many times you paint that barn-- it's still a barn.
But Jesus wants to turn the inside of that barn into a temple of the most high God, where Jesus Christ himself dwells. He wants to pimp your ride. He wants to give you a complete home makeover. He wants to turn your fixer-upper into an MTV crib. So why don't we start focusing, putting our work and our effort on where it matters-- on growing spiritually? But spiritual laziness will lead to spiritual defeat.
And then there's those-- and these people drive me up a wall-- who use their Christianity as a cloak for poor workmanship and laziness. And they'll say, well, I'm not going to apply for jobs, because I just trust that God's going to bring me something. I'm not going to work, I'm not going to do my best, because God's going to provide for all my needs anyways.
The Bible says that he provides for even the birds of the air, so of course, he's going to provide for me. So I can just be lazy and not do anything. Stop using Jesus as an excuse for you to not do a good job and be lazy. We don't serve a lazy God. We serve a hard-working God who prizes workmanships, who prizes when we hustle, and do our best, and do our best work, and give our best to God, not our worst to God.
So let's stop blaming God for our bad work ethic. If you have a bad work ethic, that's your fault, not God's fault. We as believers should be the best at what we do, not the worst. If you're a believer, you should be the best student, the best secretary, the best delivery man, the best graphic designer, the best farmer, the best builder, the best doctor, the best salesman, the best mother, the best father, the best. Whatever
Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatsoever you do, do it wholeheartedly as unto the Lord." Understand this-- even if you're not in ministry on a stage, whatever you do when you go out here during the week, you're in ministry. You're representing your God. You're representing your relationship to God by the work that you do. As you look at the Old Testament and the building of the temple, you see how there was an anointing from God on the craftsmanship of what they did-- not just on the leave lights and the priests, but on the craftsmen.
Exodus 36:2 says, "And every gifted artisan in whose heart the Lord has put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred to come and do the work." I'm appalled at the shabby, second-rate work too often done in the name of Christ in the arts by believers. Why is it that Christians be known for making stupid, dumb, poorly made movies and music? But we are. We are. That's what we're known for.
We're known for imitating what the world does, instead of setting the bar, setting the example, and doing the best. We shouldn't be imitating others-- the world should be looking at the excellence by which we do our work, by the excellence that we bring to the arts into the world, and they should be imitating us, not vise versa. We should be setting the bar, setting the excellence for work done.
Verse 11 gives the answer to, if you're in a place of slothfulness and laziness, you're wondering how to get out. Verse 11 says, that we are to be fervent in spirit-- that is, to be aglow with the spirit. This is where you get the energy to not be slothful. We need burning hearts, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Apollos was described this way, as well, where in Acts 18:24, it says, "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born in Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord, and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord."
This is the answer to when you're the end of your rope and you can't work anymore in your own strength, you have a secret weapon, and that's the Holy Spirit. And if you are fervent in spirit, aglow with the spirit, you will work with excellence, realizing that you're doing it as unto the Lord, realizing that you have a secret weapon that the world, the secular world doesn't have-- the other people in business, the other people in the medical industry, the other people in the arts industry, they don't have, and that's the Holy Spirit. And He is a well that does not run dry. He gives you power when you have no power. He gives you creativity, and ideas, and strength that no one else has.
John Wesley said, "Give me 100 men who love God with all their hearts and fear nothing but sin, and I will move the world." 12 dudes changed the world. Imagine what 15,000 people aglow with the Spirit could accomplish. Imagine if each and every one of us went out into the world, went out to our place of business aglow with the Spirit, fervent in Spirit, determined to live passionately, to work hard, to hustle, to do our best. Imagine what would happen to this city, to this church, to your family.
Verse 12 really gives us the answer to what happens if we live a life that is dedicated to the Lord, that is determined to live passionately. What we will have is something the world doesn't have, and that is hope. We will have a hope, regardless of what happens. Verse 12 says, "Rejoicing in hope." So often we see scenes of absolute hopelessness around us. And if we're looking to the systems and the schemes of man to get out of this mess that we're in, we're going to be disappointed.
As the old hymn says, my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus's blood and righteousness. See, our hope is based on a knowledge that this isn't it, that God's coming back, no matter how hard life gets. Even if you try your hardest, sometimes you fall. But when you have a hope in Christ, it doesn't matter, because you realize this isn't the final chapter. There is coming a day when God's going to set things right, and righteousness will flood the land. And it is this hope that acts as an anchor in our storms today, and gives us the hope for our future tomorrow.
Titus 2:13 says, "Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." 1 John 3:3 says, "And every man has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure." The last thing we see-- and this is where we're going to close-- our third point is that we need to be disciplined to love relentlessly. And guys, this is something that I think we need to step up in, because we, as men, are the protectors. And that's good. We should be the protectors of our family, the protectors of our home.
But at times, we can take this too far, and we can take vengeance into our hands. We can have someone hurt us, and we can say, oh, they hurt me, they hurt one of mine, I'm going to hurt them way worse than they could even imagine. I'm going to punish them. Vengeance is mine. We can feel like the Punisher in that TV show, like it's our job to hurt others. But we need to be, and we need to teach our kids to be disciplined to love relentlessly, to discipline ourselves, have self-discipline, and love others.
Verse 14 speaks to this, when it says, "Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse." This word is in the present tense, which means something we do constantly to someone who constantly wishes us harm. Luke 6:27, Jesus speaks to this, and he says, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. And Jesus certainly practiced what he preached. What he uttered on that sunny sermon on the mount, he practiced, as he hung on a cross on Golgotha-- as did Stephen.
And this takes discipline. This takes self-discipline. We need to discipline ourselves to love others relentlessly. We need to teach our kids to love others, regardless of whether or not that love is reciprocated, to love others even when our love for others is responded to with hatred. Verse 18 continues, and it says, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." Again, this is such a practical statement.
And I'm so thankful that God added those words "if it's possible," because sometimes it's not, right? Sometimes it's not possible to live peaceably with all men. If someone breaks into your home with the intention of hurting you and your family, it might not be possible to live peaceably with that person. You might have to take extreme force to protect you and your family.
There are people, some people, that you try to make peace with, but you're unable to. But don't use this versus an excuse to not try to live peaceably with all men. See, some people will use this verse and say, well, that person, I don't even want to try with them, so I'm just going to hang my hat on the "if it's not possible" verse. So it's not possible. No, we have to try. We have to put forth our best effort. Do your best, and commit the rest.
In fact, sometimes the very divisions that we have within our lives-- and this is really what is speaking to-- happen over our faith in Jesus Christ. Matthew 10:34 says, "Don't suppose that I came to bring peace to the Earth. I didn't come to bring peace, but the sword, for I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
This is really what it's speaking of. There's some people that, because of your faith in Christ, it won't be possible for you to live at peace with. And in those situations, Paul saying it's OK to brush the dust off your sandals and go the other direction. Verse 21 really gives us the answer to what do we do if someone has wronged us, someone has hurt us? What are the weapons that we fight with?
Verse 21 says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Again, I love it. God both tells me what not to do, but also what to do. And this text gives us the choice between two things. It encourages us to choose the better one. You must either be overcome by evil, or you yourself must overcome evil-- one of the two. You can't let evil alone, and evil certainly won't let you alone, so the answer is you've got to take up arms and you've got to fight. And in the battle, you will either be conquered or you will conquer.
See, this text isn't simply teaching passive non-resistance. It teaches us active deeds of kindness towards our enemies. Overcome evil with good. What are the weapons that you fight evil with? Not more evil. You don't fight fire with fire. You fight evil with good. To those who hurt you, to those who wrong you, those who persecute you, you bless them.
So if someone hurts you, don't just forgive them-- avenge it by doing them a favor. And you might say, Nate, that's the worst advice I've ever heard at church. That's a terrible way to govern society. You're right, that's true. It's a horrible way to govern society. But these words aren't given to us to govern society, they're given to us to Governor individual lives by.
God's given us the Mosaic law to govern our society by. And as a matter of fact, Romans 13:4 speaks to those who hurt others, and it speaks to a nation's law enforcement official, when it says, "If you do evil, be afraid." Come on, guys. We like that, right? Be afraid. But to the law enforcement official, it says, "For he does not bear the sword in vain. He is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil."
The point is God will avenge you. God will look after you. God will protect you. Trust in Him. So may God help us to implement these principles within our lives. May He help us put these things into practice within our families. May you let these things become your family values, the things that you won't back down from. Let's teach our kids, let's teach our families to be dedicated to the Lord, to be determined to live passionately, and to be disciplined to love relentlessly.
Let these be your non-negotiables, that you would have a real and genuine love for God and for others, that you would abhor or hate what is evil, and you would cling to what is good-- that you wouldn't be lazy spiritually, you wouldn't be lazy within your life, your working life, but rather, you would be aglow with the Spirit, fervent, that you would be passionate. And finally, don't repay evil, but instead, repay it with acts of kindness.
I'll be the first to admit some of these are harder to do than others. And you might say, Nate, one of the things on that list, I'm just going to have a really, really hard time doing. But no one ever said that being a leader would be easy, did they? No one ever said being a father or a mother would be easy. So let's lead our families, as we dedicate ourselves to him. Let's rise to the occasion, and let's believe that, as we do, He's going to give us the strength we don't have to do what He's asked us to do.
And let's look at this world dead and its baby blues, and let's fight against the status quo. Let's look at the statistics, look at the news, look at the norm, and stay with fire in your belly-- I won't back down. Lord, we thank you for Your word and the truth that it brings, the encouragement, the exhortation-- that, Lord, there are things that we shouldn't back down from, that we should be dedicated to you, we should be determined to live passionately, and we should be disciplined to love relentlessly.
Lord, I believe that as we do these things you will turn this world, you'll turn our families, this church, this city upside-down. Lord, help us leave this place to practice what we preach, to put into practice what we've heard, to change those around us. In Jesus's name we pray, amen.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.