Skip Heitzig - How to Treat Your Family
Thank you. Thank you. Wow. Wouldn't miss that for the world. It's been so long, I think I've forgotten how to preach. Hey, listen, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Peace, I give to you, My peace I leave with you, not as the world gives, do I give to you. Those are words, those are promises from your Savior and mine, the Lord Jesus Christ. Hey, do you think, do you think that there's enough fear being dispensed out there? I think we need words of faith, don't you? So let's do this. Let's turn in our Bibles to the book of Romans chapter 16. Romans chapter 16. We have been in a series in this book. We're going to be touching a little bit on the issue at hand as we go through this message tonight.
My year so far has been very interesting. I seem to go from one crisis to another. And just when I get out of the hospital, the ICU, I am met with a coronavirus, not personally, but it's out there, and people are living in fear of it. But somebody once put it this way, a happy family is but an earlier heaven. And I've learned that. I've learned the value of my own family during a time of crisis, and I have learned the value of this family during a crisis, the spiritual family, the brothers and sisters, the men and women of God who pray and walk through and work through crises together. Now we find ourselves in another one, called the coronavirus. Everybody in the world, I think, knows that word now, and it didn't take long for them to learn it.
So what do we do during a crisis like this? Well, we act like a family. We act like family should act. We should be careful, yes, but we should be caring, certainly. We should take precautions, but we should never panic. We should never give over to fear. It takes the same amount of energy to pray as it does to worry. One leads to peace, one leads to panic. Do you ever wonder during this crisis, I wonder what the churches in Wuhan, China are doing? Would you like to know? Many of them have decided to act like a family. Many of them have decided to go to the streets and minister to the emergency care workers, the medical workers, to take meals to those who are quarantined because of this disaster.
They see it as an opportunity to share the love of their Heavenly Father and their Savior in very, very tangible ways. And there's something else, this is not unfamiliar territory. Plagues have happened before in times past. Epidemics have happened in the world. Pandemics have happened before in the world. And there were Christians. For example, in Europe during the time of Martin Luther, there was a horrible pandemic that was called the bubonic plague that killed 50 million people in Europe alone. 50 million souls died because of that plague in Europe. And that's just Europe. If you were to add up North Africa and Asia and other countries around, estimates are between 75 and 200 million people lost their lives. It was a crisis.
And people were asking, what should Christians do during those times? Martin Luther was asked, what should Christians do? What should churches do? What should pastors do in the bubonic plague? And the biggest question he got is, should Christians run? Should they flee? And he was very careful in how he answered it as far as a response. Of course, they had closed the university where he lived in Wittenberg, sound familiar? They closed the university. The year was 1527. Cases of the plague hit the town Luther was in. The people in charge urged Martin Luther to leave town.
He would not leave town. He told them to attend to the sick, their sick neighbors, if they had a family certainly stay at home, he said, and attend to your sick family, much like the protocol you and I have heard recently. He said follow the practical advice of the powers that are over you as they give their mandates. But he was also vying for taking the sick people out of homes and isolating them to treat them medically so the people could fumigate their homes from some of these problems that they were facing.
But then he gave what I think is the most practical piece of advice you could give to any human being at any time, certainly during a crisis. He said, prepare for your own death. Be ready to face eternity with God. It is appointed, and a man wants to die after this, the judgment. He said, how do you prepare? By listening to sermons, by getting the word of God in you, by taking the sacraments, he called it, gathering together and taking the Lord's Supper, et cetera.
Now, we are in a very lengthy chapter, chapter 16 of the book of Romans. Just put your eyes over that chapter and see how much territory we have to cover. This is a family chapter. It is filled with family language. Verse 1, he mentions Phoebe our sister. He's speaking spiritually, of course. Down in verse 17, I urge you, brethren, that's a family term. Down to verse 23, Paul writes about Quartus, a brother. All of these are family terms, brother, sister, brethren.
And then there's also a common thread that runs through this chapter, a phrase that tells us what kind of family Paul was speaking about. I want you to notice in verse 2 that you may receive her in the Lord. Verse 3, greet Priscilla and Aquilla, my fellow workers, in Christ Jesus. Skip down to verse 7, greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen, fellow prisoners who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Verse 8, greet Amplius, my beloved, in the Lord. Verse 9, greet Urbanus, our fellow worker, in Christ. I'll stop there, 11 times in this chapter, in Christ, in the Lord.
So I draw that to your attention so that we are dealing here with a spiritual family. That is the thrust and the theme of this chapter. Paul ends this incredibly doctrinally rich epistle filled with justification by faith, filled with so many great theological nuggets. He ends it with the spiritual family in mind. That's why I've called this message How to Treat Your Family, the family of God.
In this chapter, Paul lists 26 people that he names by name and two people that are unnamed, so a list of roughly 28 individuals this chapter includes, which is why many people ignore chapter 16 of the book of Romans. My heart just didn't resonate with a genealogy. I'm not going to get much out of a whole bunch of names. What do I care about names? Well, if your name's in it, you care. But I submit to you that it should gladden our heart, and here's why. What this chapter shows us is that Paul was not a lone ranger. He didn't operate alone. He always had a team. He always had a group. He always had a collaborative around him. He spoke to people that way. He ministered that way. Which brings up sort of an umbrella issue, how connected are you to people in church? How connected are you to the spiritual family?
One author puts it this way, who's holding your trampoline? I'm referencing a book that was put out some years ago by Donald Joy. He was an expert on relationships, and he wrote a book. And the very first chapter was called, "Who's Holding Your Trampoline?" And the way he sets this book off is that you need individuals in your life when you're bouncing up and down and there's viruses floating around and you don't know where you're going to land and you've had brain surgeries and back surgeries, you just don't know what's going to happen in your future.
When you come bouncing up and down, who's holding your trampoline? What Donald Joy says is every individual needs four groups of people. Think of it as a four-sided trampoline. You need a group on this side, this side, this side, and this side. He calls them four groups, family, relatives, friends, acquaintances. Family, relatives, friends, acquaintances. Let me explain. Your family, of course, is your immediate family, parents, children, spouses, spouse.
Brothers and sisters. If you're in the Old Testament, I could say spouses. So family, number two, relatives. Those are also part of your family but they're a little more distant, uncles, aunts, grandparents. Third group, friends, those are your growing, solid, active collection of friends that you have in your life. And finally, number four, associates, people you work with, people you work out with, people in your church.
All four groups, says Donald Joy, represent a person's support system in any crisis. So just think, you don't have to take a test or write it down, but how many people can you count in your life that are holding your trampoline? Paul counts 28, and that's just this letter. According to Donald Joy and according to researchers, a healthy system has at least 12 people holding you. Most of them know each other. That's a healthy system. A neurotic system, somebody who's neurotic, has about 10 or 11, maybe 10 to 12, and they don't necessarily know each other, about a third of them do. A psychotic individual, only about four or five. Now, I have divided chapter 16 into three sections, each of them with a directive. How do you treat your family? You treat them this way. Be welcoming, be honoring, be discerning. Be welcoming, be honoring, and be discerning.
Now, let me just say that I wish I had more time on chapter 16. I know I say that in every chapter of the Bible, but I discovered I could do, and I'd love to do, an entire series just on the 16th chapter. I'm only going to touch on some issues tonight. So be welcoming, be honoring, be discerning. First of all, be welcoming. Verse 1, I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchreae, that you may receive her or welcome her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the Saints and assist her in whatever business she has need of you. For indeed, she has been a helper of many and of myself also. What I love among a lot of things of this chapter is the very first person on Paul's list in chapter 16 is a woman.
Now, this is huge if you realize this was written in antiquity 2,000 years ago in a Greco-Roman culture. First on his list was a woman named Phoebe. In fact, in this list, chapter 16, nine of the 26 people that are named are women's names. And four of those women are described as being laborers in the Lord or hard workers for Christ. I love that. I love it because it destroys the notion that Paul is a chauvinist, that the Bible is misogynistic, and Paul wasn't very friendly to women. Listen, the Bible honors the role of women over and over again. If you compare biblical culture to prevailing culture, huge difference. In the Greco-Roman culture, which was male-dominant, ancient cultures were male-dominant, Jewish men could divorce their wives, Jewish women could not divorce their husbands.
In the Greco-Roman culture, when a baby was born, everyone hoped it was a boy. It had a better chance of survival. Girls were regarded as a financial burden in one's future. At least boys could contribute to the family. That's how they saw it. So we have a little snippet of that in a letter from 1, the year 1, BC, where a man writes his wife. He's a Greek laborer. I think he's writing in Egypt. And he writes his wife because he found out that she's pregnant. She's going to deliver a child soon. So he writes a letter and says, quote, "if, good luck to you, you have another child, if it is a male child, let it live. If it is a female, cast it out." Close quote.
Now, what he was referring to in the letter was a common practice in Greco-Roman culture where people could take their babies and toss them out on the garbage dump. And if they survived, they were usually picked up by people who would make them slaves and/or prostitutes. How different women are treated on the pages of the New Testament. Jesus welcomed women. There were a group of women around Jesus, not just his disciples. They followed him in his Galilean ministry. Luke chapter 8 tells us 12 were with him, those are the Twelve Apostles, and certain women, and they're named Mary called Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna. Then there was a group of women that followed Jesus all the way to the Cross, and they were there in those final moments as our Lord was hanging on that cross.
You ever think about the role of women in the Bible? Deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt began with a woman obedient to God named Jochebed, the mother of Moses, who put that little baby down stream in that river. The story of the line of King David includes a faithful Gentile woman by the name of Ruth. The preservation of the Jews in Persia were due to a woman named Esther, who saw such a time as this to speak up. And the New Testament story of salvation by faith through Jesus Christ begins, in part, by a virgin woman named Mary.
And now, Paul begins his list in Romans chapter 16, his list of helpers with Phoebe, first mentioned a woman. Now, three things are said of Phoebe. Number one, she is our sister. That describes her relationship spiritually. Second, she is called a servant. This describes her role ministerially. And third, she is called a helper. That describes her activity practically. She is our sister. She is a servant. She is a helper. Here's what's interesting. The word "servant" used here is the same word used in Acts chapter six for a group of men that the early church identified deachonoy. The word here is deaconos a deacon, a deaconess, somebody who serves the church in a very practical way.
And there were deaconesses, history tells us, in the earlier years of the church who were dispatched to do a number of things like visit the sick and help the poor and many things like that. Paul says that she has been a Helper of many and of myself also, verse 2. Now, you see that word helper? Best translation, patroness, benefactress. So because he uses this word, we can infer that she was probably a wealthy woman, some kind of a business woman who gave support to Paul the Apostle. Maybe she owned property. Maybe she owned a business. Maybe she was a merchant. Perhaps her husband died and left that to her. We don't know, but she had means.
And it seems that she was the one who carried the Epistle of Romans to the Church at Rome on behalf of Paul, and paid for that journey. And she went along with the people who went along with her. Paul says when she comes, receive her. Welcome her. So how do you treat your family? Be welcoming. Be welcoming. The New Testament word would be, be hospitable. Hospitality.
Hospitality's a word used in the New Testament, Greek word is philinexia, and it literally means the love of strangers. Be hospitable. Be welcoming. Love people. Love strangers. Somebody once said, if the world seems cold to you, light fires to warm it. I think that's a good word right now. I think during this crisis that we face, the world seems very cold, very fearful. How many people do you know freaked out?
And isolation, which we're told to do, and I understand that's part of being responsible, makes people feel colder. If it feels colder to you, light fires to warm it. World is so scary right now for people. And one thing we're seeing is people's fears coming to the surface. Act like a family. Be welcoming. Introduce the fearful, freaked out people to the peace and love and hope of Jesus Christ. That's an opportunity. Our hope is not found in staying healthy this side of heaven. We want that. Trust me, after what I've been through, I want that. They asked me in the hospital, what is your goal for the day? My goal, I said, is to get out of here and never come back.
That's my goal. But I realize our hope is not found in staying healthy this side of heaven. I have hope beyond this earth. So be welcoming. Second big theme here is be honoring. Now, after verse 2, beginning in verse 3, for the next several verses, Paul is being honoring. He's sending regards to people by name. Greet this guy, greet that guy, greet that gal. Hey, people here, say hi. Let's get a flavor of that verse 3.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise, greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epenetus, who is the first fruits of a Achaya to Christ. Greet Mary, who labored much for us. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen, my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplius, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker and Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. Greed Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodian, my countryman.
Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. Greet Rufus, anybody named Rufus, I'm going to greet, because that just sounds like he's a mean guy. Greet Rufus, hey, Rufus, what's up? Chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. Greet Philoligus and Julia, Narius and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you.
Go down to verse 21, Timothy, my fellow worker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my countrymen. Greet you. I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, he's the secretary or emmanuencus here, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, my host, and the host of the whole church, greet you Erastus, the treasurer of the city greet you, and Quartus, a brother the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
What these names in this list, these greetings, this honor, what this shows us is that Paul was a friend-maker, not just a soul-winner. You know, we usually picture Paul as sort of austere, maybe to himself, very intense, nose to the grindstone. I'm going to write letters and I'm going to build churches and I'm going to win souls. But he also made friends.
He knows a lot of people. I mean, it's hard for me to say these names. He knew these names. They were friends of his. He was not a one-man show. He was not a one-man band. He was not so isolated that he didn't involve himself with other people. Paul was a friendly person. One of my favorite Proverbs, Proverbs 18:24, says a man who has friends, do you know this verse, must himself be friendly.
How come I don't have any friends? Maybe you're just, like, a curmudgeon. Maybe you need to be friendly. A man who has friends must, himself, be friendly. What does that mean? A friendly person operates on the basis of supply, not on the basis of need. You can operate two different levels. You can operate on the basis of need. I need this. People better give this to me. I hope somebody is there to do this for me.
Or you could be the kind of person who operates on the basis of supply. That's a friendly person. You give. You minister. You share. We remember Philippians chapter 2, do we not? Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Paul made friends. He was a friendly person. Now, I read a lot of names that are listed here, and let me cheat a little bit by saying, when you get to heaven, you'll meet them all. And you'll learn who they are. And you'll get their full story. I'm not going to give you their full story. I don't have the time. That would require a series in this chapter. But indulge me a little bit, I want to get acquainted with a few with you.
First, notice this great couple in verse 3. Greet Priscilla and Aquila. How cute is that? That's a husband and wife team, and their names rhyme. Hi, I'm Aquila. Hi, I'm Priscilla. I mean, I could just sort of picture them, right? They were a great team. They were from Rome originally. They were from Italy. They were kicked out of Italy when the Emperor Claudius expelled the Jews in 49 AD.
And so they moved. And Corinth was a great spot to move, because it was a commercial hotspot. They were tent-makers, so they came to Corinth and they set up their business in Corinth. They were Jews. They went to the synagogue. When Paul comes to Corinth to visit Corinth, first thing he does is go to the synagogue. Now, let me give you a little trivia. I think this is fun.
In ancient times, synagogues were divided. Men sat on one side, women sat on the other. So wives did not sit with their husbands like we are afforded today. So they were separated male and female. But also, the men, on their side of the room, sat in groups according to their trades or professions. So Paul comes into the synagogue visiting Corinth and sits in the section where tent-makers are, because he is a tent-maker.
And who does he bump into? Not Priscilla, Aquila. And they start talking, because they are both tent-makers. Paul gets to lead both of them to Christ. They become very dear to Paul the Apostle. Paul sends them to Ephesus later on, and now they're back in Rome where they are from. So that's Aquila and Priscilla. She is mentioned first, Priscilla and Aquila here. But go down to verse 5, and here's something very interesting.
Likewise, greet the church that is in their house. So we have a couple that had a church now in their home. They opened their heart to the gospel, then they opened their home for the gospel and with the gospel. Now, you should know that churches operated in the earliest years of Christianity from private homes until about 200 AD.
In 200 AD, the persecution in that part of the world was so fierce that they had to abandon their home. They had to go underground, meet in homes privately. Often in the city of Rome, they would meet in the catacombs, the burial chambers underneath the earth. But they met in homes for 200 years. Justin Martyr, who was on trial during this time in the third century, when he was on trial, the Roman prefect, that is the Roman official, said to him, where do you Christians assemble?
Justin Martyr said, we do not, as you suppose, meet in one place, for our God fills the heaven and the earth, and therefore he is present anywhere. We can meet any place and have communion and fellowship with him. When I go to Rome, I have a home where I go and remain. And those Christians who desire to hear me teach will come into that home. So they met in homes.
And there was now a church in the home of Aquila and Priscilla. Now, using that as the springboard, we, depending on what happens with this crazy coronavirus, must be prepared to do the same thing. If we need to, thank God for technology. If we need to, we can operate, and this feed right now is being seen by people who are meeting in homes, people around the country, people around the world. And if we need to close down the public assemblies, and that is mandated, we will certainly do that. And we're prepared to live stream.
Now, some people question that, why would Christians do that? Here's why. Love may require that we do that for a season. That is not being fearful. That is being responsible. It is a way to love our neighbor. And how do we show that we love our neighbor? We give up certain privileges that we have, and we use the technology available. And I guarantee you, it's pretty obvious that enough Christians are freaked out. Imagine your unbelieving neighbors. You think they're freaked out? Because they don't have the hope you have.
And you've invited them to church, I bet, some of you have. And they haven't come. How about now bringing church to them? How about meeting in the home, inviting them over, I'll feed you a meal, we're going to watch something on TV. It's live-streamed. It could be an opportunity. So be useful, be purposeful, be available during this time. That's being honoring. So be welcoming. Be honoring.
But we're not done. Go down to verse 9. There's a couple of names I can't pass up. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. Who are they? I have no clue. But actually, I do have a clue. Urbanus was a common name for slaves. Urbanus, do you recognize the word? Urban. Our word urban comes from Urbanus, it means city. And so the word Urbanus actually means city-bred, or we call it a city slicker.
What it probably means is he was a slave who was raised and worked in a city, probably Rome. It was a very common name for slaves. The next name, Stachys, is an uncommon Greek name, but there is one listing in antiquity that mentions a guy named Stachys found in the royal household in Rome. What I think is significant is in the same sentence, Paul mentions somebody who is a slave and somebody who is noble, somebody who's a servant and somebody who is royalty, not a respecter of persons.
Which, by the way, this virus, we have discovered, is no respecter of persons. The virus doesn't care if you're poor or rich. It doesn't seem to care where you live, doesn't seem to care your skin color, doesn't seem to care how much education or how important you are in the community. You could be poor or you could be Tom Hanks and his wife down in Australia shooting a movie about Elvis Presley and are now quarantined, or an NBA player who is positive with this, or the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister, doesn't matter.
In this regard, the coronavirus is very much like sin. The only thing is, we're all infected with sin. And it is far more lethal. And sin, like the virus, is not a respecter of persons. But that's where the Cross comes in, because neither is the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the great bulldozer that levels everyone. God has no favorites. You can Urbanus, you can be Stachys, but if you're in the Lord, you're part of us. No respecter of persons.
Billy Graham used to say the ground is always level at the foot of the Cross. And Paul demonstrates that in verse 9 by using these two names together. Go down to verse 10. Don't worry, we're going to finish. 10 and 11. Greet Apelles, approved in Christ, greet the household. Those who are of the household of Aristobulus. Mark that name. Greet Herodian, mark that name, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus, mark that name, who are in the Lord.
Now, Aristobulus, we believe, scholars believe, was none other than the brother of Herod Agrippa I and also the grandson of Herod the Great. Herodian, who is mentioned here, is related, obviously, to the Herod family, and perhaps is associated with Aristobulus. Narcissus, named here, happened to be very well-known in Rome. He was rich, very influential, and a real creep, very ungodly, profligate. And he was well known.
He was the Secretary of the Roman Emperor Claudius for a while. But what Paul is doing is greeting members of the household of these people who have obviously come to faith in Christ, employees, slaves, but they came to know Jesus. That's noteworthy. Then again verse 13, greet Rufus. Now, I made a joke about Rufus a minute ago, but let me get a little more serious.
When we read this, we go, I don't know who Rufus is any more than I know who Phlegon is in the next verse. It's just a name. It doesn't mean anything. But we actually get insight into who Rufus was by reading the gospel of Mark. Incidentally, guess where the gospel of Mark, we believe, was written, Rome. Now, in the gospel of Mark chapter 15, you'll know this story, you'll know the reference, Jesus is carrying His cross to Golgotha, and at one point, it gets so heavy, He falls, right? And somebody is compelled to carry it. Remember his name?
Simon from Sirene. Mark 15, they compelled a certain man, Simon, a Sirenian, the Father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His Cross. Now, there would be no reason for the gospel writer to mention Rufus and Alexander to the church in Rome unless they knew Alexander and Rufus.
Here, he mentions him in this story. And the fact that Simon was his father, let's put the story together. Obviously, Simon, who carried the Cross of Jesus Christ, and Mrs. Simon, according now to the text in this chapter, both came to know Jesus Christ, probably because of that encounter, and maybe even going to the Cross and watching the Savior die. That's probably what happened.
Then, they had kids, and they raised them to be believers, and now they are in the church at Rome. I'm sort of belaboring all this, because I want to make a point. There is a common thread that runs through this chapter, and here it is. Out of great calamity comes great opportunity. Whether it's the calamity of getting kicked out of Rome if you're Aquila and Priscilla and you have to move and you happen to end up in Corinth and you sit next to a guy named Paul in the synagogue who leads you to Christ, bam, that's good. Hallelujah for that, calamity, opportunity.
Or there's persecution and you have to go underground, whatever it is, or you're Jesus and you get crucified, but that atones for the sins of the world, and a guy named Simon who bore the Cross comes to know that Savior, and there's that trickle-down opportunity. I say that, because in this crisis, we should start viewing it, yes, responsibly, yes, protectively, but, yes, as an opportunity.
Do you think this took God by surprise? The Bible says even the winds and the sea obey him. God could stop this in a heartbeat if he chose. But here it is. God's people can use this as an opportunity. Now, in verse 16, it says, greet one another with a holy kiss. I would have to get this text right in the middle of coronavirus.
Right? It says greet one another with a holy kiss. And let me just say, don't do that tonight. And I'll tell you why. First of all, in ancient times, this was a custom to kiss a family member or a relative that was not a close family member, maybe even a close friend, if you hadn't seen that person for a long time, especially you kiss them on the forehead or both cheeks. Justin Martyr in the second century said when we finish our prayers, we greet one another with a kiss. Tertullian called this a kiss of peace.
You know why it was important to the early church? By the way, five times in the New Testament, by both Paul and Peter, we are told to greet one another with a holy kiss. Here's why, it's a family gesture. And he's writing to people who have been kicked out of their families. Their families have disowned them because they know Jesus now. So Paul is saying, treat them like family. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
They're not getting that from their family. You be their family. That's what this is about. But I love how the Phillips translation translates it. Give one another a hearty handshake all around for my sake. Now, I'm going to say don't do that either tonight. Don't kiss each other on the cheek, don't give each other a handshake. Now, let me read this to you in the NSV, the New Skip Version.
Greet one another with an enthusiastic, hello. Do that. Maybe I should call it the new coronavirus version. Just say hello for right now. No handshakes, no hugs, no fist bumps. Viruses can get passed this way. Just hi. God bless you. I love you. Consider yourself hugged. Don't kiss each other on the cheek. Don't even blow a kiss. Just, you got it. Now, I want to bring this to a close. Be welcoming, be honoring, third, be discerning.
How do you treat one another in a family? You be discerning. That is you love people enough who watch out for people who come in and don't love them. That's called being discerning, verse 17. Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them, for those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ but their own belly, that is their own appetite, it's all about them, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.
For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore, I am glad on your behalf, but I want you to be wise in what is good and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace, I love this, love this, love this, the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, amen.
This paragraph, to some people, seems out of place, but it is not. Here's why. Any dad, any husband, any man who loves his family is going to want to protect his family. Love will do that. Paul was their father in the faith. Paul knew God had done a great work in Rome. He did not want division to destroy that work. It is not unlike Paul at all to say things like this. 1 Corinthians 13:6, love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. When Paul left the church of Ephesus on the shores of Miletus he said, I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in not sparing the sheep. Even people from among your own flock will come in and draw disciples under themselves.
I've warned you of this, he said. I wept for years about this, and I warned you about it. That's a good shepherd. A good shepherd protects his sheep. A good shepherd used to carry a staff and a rod. The staff was to direct the sheep, gently lead them. A rod was to beat not sheep, but wolves. A wolf would come in, he'd take out that club, bam, bam, bam. You want a shepherd like that. That's a good shepherd.
I love that when the conversation the Pharisees were once having with the disciples of Jesus, Jesus sort of walked over to them and said to the Pharisees, what are you talking to my disciples about? Not that he didn't know what they were talking about, he was God, but he just sort of got in their grill, their little Pharisaic face and was a good shepherd to them.
Any time there's a work of God, there's going to be a counter-work of Satan. That's the way it is. If God is on the move, so is the devil. Light always attracts bugs. And so you need a fly-swatter, and Paul provides that in this paragraph. So notice what Paul says, bringing this to an end now. I should sound more like Paul, finally, my brethren. Of course, he said that then he kept going in several of his letters, but I want you to notice the way to handle divisive people.
He says, first of all, you've got to be aware of who they are. Now I urge you, verse 17, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses. Obviously, people wormed their way into the church in Rome, sowing seeds of disunity, making it about themselves. So it says note who they are. And then look at the end of verse 17, and avoid them.
What do you do with a divisive person? What do you do a person who wants to argue? Don't. Walk away. Ignore them. Because when you ignore a person like this, you're not giving them what they want the most, and that is attention. They want to control the narrative. Don't let them. They want to make it about them. Don't let it be. Walk away. Don't post something nasty on your Instagram. Don't tweet something really bad in response to their tweet. Just move on. Reject what they say and move on. So in short, this is how you treat your family. Welcome them, honor them, protect them.
As we close, in the next few weeks, we may have to give up certain privileges. We'll see how this goes day by day, week by week. We are prepared if we needed to stop the mass assembly and get this out to you via phone and Roku and Apple TV and computer, et cetera. We may have to give up a privilege to protect the vulnerable. But, but, hope is better than fear. And prayer is better than panic. And that's what we're demonstrating here.
And let me just say this, marching forward together is way better than marching into the future alone. I'm happy to march into the future with you, no matter if we do it online for a few weeks only and get back together. But we want to honor the Lord. We're going to close in prayer. I'm going to ask a few people to come up and pray, three to be exact. That's because our president wisely decreed this weekend, tomorrow, to be a National Day of Prayer. And that's where this nation should be. So I'm going to have three individuals that represent our church to close us in prayer. Would you all stand?