Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

04/30/2017 A.M.

 

The Agape Factor

John 13.34-35  1 Corinthians 13.4-8  Romans 12.9-16

 

It was Jesus who said...

A new command I give you... Love one another.

As I have loved you... So you must love one another.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples... If you love one another.

 

Paul tells us what this love looks like in First Corinthians chapter 13...

Love is patient... Love is kind... It does not envy... It does not boast... Is not proud.

Love is not rude... Is not self-seeking... Is not easily angered... Keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects... Always trusts...Always hopes... Always perseveres.

Love never fails.

 

Now... Read our text with me... From Romans 12.9-16...

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.

Bless those who persecute you... Bless and do not curse.

Rejoice with those who rejoice... Mourn with those who mourn.

Live in harmony with one another.

Do not be proud... But be willing to associate with people of low position... Do not be conceited.

 

At first glance... These verses seem to contain a series of... staccato commands... A rag bag... Of miscellaneous exhortations... But a closer examination reveals that they flesh out what agape love should look like in my life and in yours.

 

Paul is saying the same thing here that he said in First Corinthians chapter thirteen... Agape Love must govern all our relationships... Or Or...Our religion means nothing... It’s only a tinkling symbol... And accomplishes nothing for us.

 

John R.W. Stott givesus our outline this morning

in what he calls this Paul’s recipe for love... Recipe for Agape.

Stott notes that it seems to have twelve ingredients.

Let’s see what we can learn...

 

First... Love... Agape... Must be Sincere...

One translation says... Let your love be Genuine.

The word genuine literally means without hypocrisy.

In classical Greek, our word referred to an actor who played a role on stage.

It came to mean anyone who acts contrary to his own true feelings.

It applies to those of us who put forth the appearance of love we do not actually possess.

 

Eugene Peterson in his paraphrase “The Message Bible”… Says… Love from the center of who you are... don’t fake it.

 

The Agape Factor is about a love... that’s sincere...  That’s genuine.

 

Love Must be Discerning...Abhor evil... Hold fast to what is good.

Agape hates evil!

 

Agape is not a warm cozy feeling that causes us to lose our sense of right and wrong… Lose our inhibitions.

 

Here it is church... We cannot love the world… Love evil… And love God at the same time.

Question... Are we shocked by evil?... Are we still blushing at the mention of some evils? When was the last time we blushed?

• There was a time not too long ago that certain words in mixed company made us blush.

• We were shocked when something risqué appeared on our living room television.

• There was a time when we walked out of a movie theater because of evil on the screen.

Now we hardly notice it or we laugh at it.

 

The 18th century poet... Alexander Pope offered this warning...

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,

As to be hated needs but to be seen;

Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure... Then pity... Then embrace.

 

Church... Regardless of what the world says... Love... Agape... Is not blind to evil… But embraces good.

 

God says... Love needs to have clear vision... Vision clear enough for proper... Annuluses... Discernment... Or we’ll end up loving things we ought not to love... Entertaining relationships that are not good for us...

• Not every relationship is a good relationship.

• Not every choice is a good choice.

• Not every friendship is good for us... We are told to shun evil companionships.

• Not every job is a wise career move.

• Not every roommate is a healthy choice.

• Not every purchase is a wise use of our money.

 

The Agape Factor aids us in... True discernment... Between good and evil... Right and wrong.  

It allows vision to see what is right... It gives us courage to choose the right... Choose the good.

 

Love Displays Tender Affection... Love one another with brotherly affection.

Paul says we are to love one another as family members.

The word is one we know well... Philadelphia… Brotherly Love.

It means to have a... Tender Affection... Fondness...Devotion... Owed to those born of the same womb.

 

For us as Bible students, it’s easy to see that this applies to those who have experienced...

• The new birth...

• Those born again...

• Born of God...

• Born of water and Spirit...

Through a personal faith in Jesus and in NewTestament baptism.

 

Indeed... It was this same Paul who said... We are children of God... HOW?... We are children of God by faith... For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ... Have been clothed with Christ.

 

The Agape Factor is a tie that binds us together in a brotherly love...

Agape is about family...

• About community...

• About friendshipand fellowship...

togetherness...One-anotherness.

 

This brings us to our next point… Honor One Another Above Yourselves...

The Greek actually carries a sense of competition about it. So the translation could be... The agape principle means that we must outdo one another in demonstrating honor. Agape places the interest of others before our own.

 

Paul is saying that we must make sure that others receive preferential treatment before we do.

 

Ha... This goes against our human nature...Our flesh nature... So-much-so that it’s not possible to accomplish without the infusion of God’s Holy Spirit in our hearts... Amen?

We need the Spirit of God in us in order to Agape.

 

On his desk in the Oval Office, President Ronald Reagan kept a small plaque with the words: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.”... Paul would say... Amen!

 

Number five... Love Must be Enthusiastic...

Do not be slothful in zeal... Be fervent in spirit...Serving the Lord.

 

I think Paul is challenging us to put as much effort and excitement into our Christianity as we do... into our work... into our entertainment.

 

Question!!... Are we as excited about Jesus as we are about... The Razorbacks... The Dallas Cowboys?... The Cardinals?...Or the Cubs?

 

The Amplified Bible catches the meaning very well... Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor... be aglow and burning with the Spirit... Serving the Lord.

 

The phrase be aglow and burning with the Spirit refers to a boiling pot.

 

Agape serves the Lord with zeal and a boiling intensity.

 

Church... Are we growing in our intensity and enthusiasm for the Lord... Or are we cooling off?

 

Here it is... The world will not be moved by half-hearted discipleship... Can I say that again… The world will not be moved by half-hearted discipleship... By those who... sort of... Kinda... sometimes... Serve the Lord.

 

The Agape Factor sees that the King’s Business requires enthusiasm.

 

Love Must Be Patient...

Rejoice in hope...Be patient in tribulation... Be constant in prayer.

 

Behind these three phrases lies the idea of Maranatha...Being patient in tribulation... Constant in prayer... While we wait upon the Lord’s return.

 

When V. Raymond Edman was president of Wheaton College... He often exhorted the students to live... Chin up and knees down...That’s good advice for all of us... Amen?

 

Agape Is Generous...It Contributes to the needs of the saints.

It’s interesting to note here that... The word translated contribute is the verb form of the word koinonia... Meaning... To fellowship...To share... With others.

• On one level... It means sharing in the hurts and heartaches of others.

• On another level... Giving so that the poor believers will have their needs met.

 

Galatians 6.10 has Paul saying... Do good to all men... Especially those who believe... Those who belong to the household of believers.

 

Indeed... This is a true measure of our Christian faith... Meeting the needs of those who have less than we.

 

The Agape Factor is generous... It contributes to the needs of all men... Especially those in the church family.

 

Love Must Pursue Hospitality...Seek to show hospitality.

The Greek means we are to love strangers… Do we?... Really?

Hospitality is showing kindness to strangers.

This command shows up in various places in the New Testament because hospitality was a central mark of the early church.

 

It’s true.... Our God is hospitable...He’s the original lover of strangers... For while we were yet... Strangers...Aliens... Sinners... Christ died for us.

 

Ephesians 2.11-13 tells us... We were estranged from God... Excluded from citizenship in His Kingdom... Then He sent his Son to the earth. And we who were once strangers and aliens on the earth have now been brought near to God… We have a Father son… Father daughter…Relationship with God by the blood of Christ.

 

Indeed… The Agape Factor demands we do for others what God did for us... Take in strangers.

 

Agape is Kind...Bless those who persecute you... Bless and do not curse them.

There are two parts to this that must be considered...

  Number 1) What happens to us.

  Number 2) How we respond to what happens to us

 

For instance…

• We will be persecuted...

• We will be hated...

• Mistreated...

• Misunderstood...

• Lied to and about...

• Gossiped about.

There will be those who go beyond this to hurt us deeply... Physically.

 

So... How do we react?... Agape seeks a blessing for them.

 

Remember this church... Our enemy may be a gift from God... Giving us an opportunity to do for them what God did for us… Again, Our enemy may be a gift from God... Giving us an opportunity to do for them what God did for us.

 

Think of it this way... The greater the hurt... The greater the potential blessing... That will come when we bless those who curse us.

 

The Agape Factor says... Sometimes... God raises up an enemy to see if we really want to be like Jesus... And... And... He will keep our enemies alive and well as long as we need them.

 

Number 10... Love Shows Sympathy...

Rejoice with those who rejoice... Weep with those who weep.

Love gets involved in the lives of others!!

 

Agape doesn’t stand… Stoically… Piously… On the sidelines while a brother goes through a hard time.  Many of us probably find it easier to weep with someone... Than to rejoice with them.  The Agape Factor says... Rejoice with them...Weep with them... Become involved... It’s a good thing to do!

 

Verse 16... Live in harmony with one another.

The Greek literally reads... Think the same things toward each other.

 

Paul is not implying total agreement... If two people totally agree on everything... One of them is unnecessary!

 

In music... Harmony implies a collection of instruments playing on the same page at the same time. They don’t play the same notes... They don’t sound alike... But together they make beautiful music... So it is in the body of Christ.

 

We don’t all... Look alike... Act alike...Sound alike... Think alike... Or have the same spiritual gifts... The Agape Factor allows harmony amid our differences... As we understand that the things that unite us are greater than the things that divide us.

We are united by a common love for Jesus Christ.

 

Then finally... Love Must Show Humility.

Do not be haughty... Associate with those of low degree... Never be conceited... Don’t be a snob!

 

The word translated conceited means... Wise in your own thinking.

We’re not to think more highly of ourselves... But to think soberly.

 

The Agape Factor does not think it’s too good to hang out with people who are not in its social class... Educationally... Professionally...Financially. One translation says... Agape makes friends with the poor.

 

Well... We must stop... But the most powerful recommendation... For any church... Our church... Is this... That the members agape one another!

 

The world longs for this kind of love... And seldom finds it.

When the world... The un-churched... come to a church... And are asked what they are looking for in a church... The answer is always the same... We’re looking for a caring church.

 

Not just a friendly church... A relevant church... A church with plenty of programs for kids... Not just a church where the Bible is clearly taught.  They want to be loved truly and deeply.... Agaped...

 

When the people of the world find such a place... They’ll stand in line to get in.

The church is to be a community of love.

 

So...So...

Let’s let brotherly love abound more and more.

Let Christian sympathy go out to those in need.

Let’s take the banner of God’s love and concern around the world.

Let’s pray for one another and especially for those with whom we disagree.

Let’s let our hearts overflow with brotherly love for all of God’s children everywhere...

Let’s decide today to live… Chin up looking for His return… Knees down in prayer.

 

Indeed... Let us EMBRACE the agape FACTOR.

 

Are you here with a need to become a child of God by faith and baptism?

 

Are we in need of applying this Agape Factor to our lives daily?

 

Come accept Jesus... Come apply the agape faCtor... As we stand and sing.