- Sermon Notes
Love Your Brother
When you offer your life as a living sacrifice, God transforms you – how does He do that? By renewing your mind. When you came to Christ, you came out of the world, but you brought a lot of the world with you. That’s what God wants to transform.
In other words, a lot of our thinking comes from the world we came out of. But we need to think with sound judgment and with a godly mind.
The best way to have godly and sound judgment is to have a plumb line by which you can compare your thinking to that which is “true to plumb.” Christ Himself is the plumb line of God in our lives and we need to build our faith so that we compare our thoughts and our ways to Christ.
When God says that He transforms us by renewing our mind, it suggests change. It suggests that our mind is made new; old thoughts and old ways have to go. But there’s the rub. Many people are set in their ways and don’t like to change.
Paul likens it to looking in a mirror, seeing spinach in your teeth or mustard on your face and then doing nothing about it. James gives a similar admonishment in his letter…
James 1:23-24, If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.
Illus – “He is like a man…” He used a word which means “a male.” A man will only glance at a mirror, but a woman will behold in a mirror. Women may even have a series of mirrors they use to get started in their day.
The two greatest commandments God has ever given are that you are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second greatest is like it; you are to love your neighbor as yourself.
This chapter is about how to honor God with how you live your faith in your everyday life – whatever you do, do it by faith and honor to God. But it’s also about loving your brother.
In Paul’s day when he wrote this letter, but also in modern times, people live out their faith differently. Some, in all faith and in honor to God, have many freedoms. Others, in all faith and in honor to God, have many restrictions.
Each one of us will give an account of our lives to God in how we lived out our faith. But can we not therefore respect our brother? We need more grace with each other. Don’t judge your brother or regard your brother with contempt; he will give his own account to God.
You have convictions by faith? Great. But don’t look with contempt on others who don’t have your identical convictions for there is a spiritual principle that is higher – love your brother.
I. Walk According to Love
- This is the guiding principle over all these verses. Paul uses food as an example because it was extremely relevant at that time because of the influence
of Jewish law.
- Verse 15 – If because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love.
Illus - When you go to Israel today, there is still a lot of sensitivity about food. They don’t eat milk with meat, they don’t eat pork, and neither do we when were there because we don’t want to offend.
John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
A. Don’t offend your brother
- We need more grace with each other. Don’t judge one another, Paul says, instead, extend grace and don’t put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s
- Talk about putting a stumbling block in a brother’s way, here’s an important, but sensitive example…
Illus – My wife, Jordi, was teaching a class on the importance of Christian women dressing modestly and one of the women said, “If a man has trouble with his eyes, that’s his problem!” That’s very true, but the question is not whether you have liberty in Christ, the question is whether it edifies your brother.
1 Corinthians 8:9, Take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
- Paul then brings up food; if, by faith, you have freedom to eat all things, then don’t flaunt your Christian liberty, but respect others who, by faith,
have more restrictions.
- In Paul’s day you could get a great discount on meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul knew that idols were nothing, but this became a big issue…
1 Corinthians 10:25, 28, Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake… But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” don’t eat it for the sake of the conscience of the one who informed you.
B. Don’t be easily offended
- Paul says, in our Christian maturity, we should not offend our brother. But in the same way, we should not also easily take offense.
- Judging and holding others in contempt goes both ways. It is easy to have contempt for those who have a lot of restrictions in their lives and to judge
those who don’t.
- God wants us to have maturity of faith so that we do not offend our brother, but our maturity of faith should also cause us to not be easily offended.
Illus – I remember when we were finishing the remodel/addition to the church; we were getting ready for the Wednesday service and I saw a lady standing in the sanctuary looking at everything…
- The reason taking offense is displeasing to God is that it’s destructive to relationships. Families, friendships, and even churches have been divided
by people taking offense.
Illus - That reminds me of a story I read about some famous church splits in Centerville, Georgia…
Proverbs 17:9, He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.
Proverbs 19:11, The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.
Illus – I mentioned last week that I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t see that particular restriction in scripture, but I do it to honor those who struggle in this area. However, I’ve also come to realize that I do it for personal reasons, alcohol has hurt people I love and therefore I have little regard for it.
It’s made for some interesting examples. When I was a youth director, a couple from church had us over for dinner and without asking put alcohol in my drink. Discretion told me to overlook it.
- However, some people become “offended” as a way of getting others to do what they want.
Illus - I remember many years ago a guy who made much of his maturity in Christ, but then wrote a letter to me with a list of all the things that “offended” him; including the fact that one of our leaders had a wine rack in their house.
To quote from the famous British philosopher, William Shakespeare, “Methinks thou dost protest too much.” Hamlet, Act III, scene two.
II. Pursue the Things which Make for Peace
- The key word there is “pursue.” It means to make a real effort; to make this important; pursue with all diligence the things which make for peace.
- This is about loving your brother and it comes out of our relationship to God. God values people and He wants us to respect one another.
Romans 12:17-18, Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
A. This is acceptable to God and approved by men
- The kingdom of God, Paul says, is righteousness, peace, and joy. God is pleased when we pursue these things.
- Righteousness – because we are not made acceptable to God by the keeping of laws, we are made righteous by God Himself who gave to
us the righteousness of Christ as a gift.
- Peace – “My peace I give to you,” Jesus said. There is a calm confidence in Christ that is unflappable and undisturbed in the irritations
of the moment.
- Joy – because joy comes from a delight that finds purpose and meaning in life. Joy comes, not because of circumstances, but because
of who we are in Christ. Don’t lose your joy over irritations in life.
- Paul also says that he who serves Christ in this way will be approved by men. In other words, there is something very desirable
in people who are peacemakers; who are willing to yield their rights in deference to those who genuinely struggle with an issue.
Illus - When I was going to Bible College I made an agreement with the registrar’s office about how to handle a Greek class, but they reneged on the agreement. Praise God, He showed me the things which make for peace and put His favor on it.
- In other words, pursue, seek for ways to bless other people; to edify and build them up.
- When you build your life next to the plumb line of God, this is the life He desires for you to build.
Ephesians 4:29, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
- For some people this is a radical concept and they say, “Look, this is just the way I am, okay?” Actually, that’s who you used to be, and perhaps still
are, but the question now is who will you become?
Illus - Some people are under the false assumption that who they are is somehow locked into their genetic code and they have no choice but to live out the disposition given to them. This may be true of alligators and hyenas, but there is something much higher at work in those who are in Christ Jesus.
- Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. God is love and when you build your life next to the plumb
line of God, you also love – even the unlovable.
Illus - Some time ago I had a difficult person in my life and one day God gave me a great revelation that truly helped me. I was in the shower and thinking about what I should do when I felt God say, “Does God love this person?” I knew that God loved him. “Does God want to bless this person?” I knew that God did. “Then you be in agreement with God.”
C. Live from faith
- Paul summarizes the entire chapter in verse 23, don’t eat or drink unless you can eat or drink from faith; whatever is not from faith is sin.
- The idea is “from faith” or out of your faith, do all things. How? You are aware of His presence in everything you do, and you live to honor Him and
give Him glory.
Colossians 1:10, Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…
- This is a powerful principle when you realize it applies to every area of your life. It brings God into every equation.
- The way that you relate to your spouse – is it from faith? The way you run your business – is it from faith?
Galatians 2:20-21, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Romans 14:13-23 NASB
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. 14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.