Epiphany 3a

Preached: January 26, 2014

Love Boils throughout God’s Gifts
Romans 12:6-16

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Romans 12:6-16


Picture a steam locomotive from the past. Tons of iron and coal sitting there on the rails. Muscle power couldn’t move it. But when the water boils and the steam pushes the pistons, the force not only moved the engine but a long line of train cars as well.

God gives his people a variety of gifts, including differing abilities, various opportunities, a diversity of ways to serve, many different functions, many different roles, offices, and responsibilities. What is it that moves us to put our gifts into action? What’s the steam? Our inborn nature feels driven by guilt, fear, greed, self-preservation, praise, honor, duty, glory, fame, power, pleasure, reward, self-esteem, and others. Such motivation can move people to do great things in this world. But that’s our old nature. What moves us as a Christian? In a word love, but a very different kind of love than the world knows.

Without love God’s gifts our meaningless. They’re empty, hollow actions. But in his mercy, the Lord not only gives us gifts people. He creates in our hearts that new kind of love. Love boils throughout God’s gifts. It’s the steam that moves us.

  1. Love that’s energized with grace
    1. God gives his gifts to us because of his grace
      1. χαρισματα and “according to his grace”
      2. His grace not only saves but also enables us
        1. Examples of different gifts
        2. Different spheres of responsibility
        3. Using them generously, diligently, cheerfully
    2. His grace creates our love
      1. As energy creates steam so his grace creates our love
      2. “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good”
        1. Includes not only morality but also God’s truth
          1. Confessing and hating the evil within us
          2. Clinging to the cross of Christ for forgiveness
        2. Truth in word and sacraments ignite, kindle, fan, and energize our love
        3. Beneficial feedback loop: That love clings all the more to the goodness of God’s truth
    3. Trans: As grace energizes our love more and more, we fervently desire to express that love in action. Just as a steam locomotive moves its cars, we use our gifts for other. The love that boils throughout God’s gifts is not just for ourselves, but this love warms others with its heat.

  2. Love that warms others
    1. It warms our fellows Christians
      1. Treats them as family
        1. “Brotherly love”
        2. “Devoted” the devoted love between mother and child
        3. Baptism
          1. You were a foreigner, enemy
          2. Reborn as God’s child, as a brother or sister in Christ
      2. Fervently serves our Lord by serving them
        1. See Jesus in your fellow Christan
          1. “Whatever you do to the least, you do for me”
          2. “Share with God’s people who are in need”
        2. Rejoice in what Jesus has done for you
          1. “Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”
          2. Washed us clean so that we can wash the feet of others
      3. It reaches out to warm others: “Practice hospitality”
        1. Not always welcomed or appreciated
          1. Our joy is in the hope of what’s ahead for us and, God-willing, for them
          2. Patient to keep at it even when not going as we expected
          3. Persistent and faithful in prayer, relying on the Lord
        2. In fact, love blesses even in reaction to a hostile response
      4. It stands along side in Christian humility
        1. Sharing joy and sorry
        2. It lives in harmony, not exalting self.
        3. Consider how the Son of God stood and stands by your side

Conclusion: Next time you hear a train whistle or have to wait at a crossing, remember the steam locomotive. Cherish God’s grace toward you and the blessings it brings. As his grace energizes your heart, let love boil throughout your gifts and use them to warm the hearts of others.

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313