The Character of Christian Community, Part 3.

The latter half of Romans 12 instructs Christians on the kind of love we should display. Our love is holy, relational, passionate, and aware. A series of direct imperatives begins in Romans 12:13. Love is intentional about its surroundings.

"Contributing to the Needs of the Saints"

How would we function without the services of hotels, restaurants, or welfare? This was the environment of the first-century church to whom Paul wrote. This made providing for the needs of the saints that much more important.

When each member is aware of their personal measure of faith and engaging in relational discipleship with others, individual needs will not slip through the cracks corporately. Personal discipleship makes us aware of needs and helps us know who doesn't have a real need. This makes our help more effective, more detailed, and more substantive.

The help the church provides is more thorough than the world's help. Even the unsaved respond generously to emergency situations, but it is usually periodic and sensational. The help Paul describes is regularly ongoing and personal. The literal Greek phrase says, "enter into fellowship with the needs of the saints." We treat their needs as if they are our own.

"Practicing Hospitality"

The literal translation of this Greek phrase is "pursue strangers." This word "pursue" conveys the same passion with which one would pursue people in persecution.

This phrase is applied primarily in the practice of hospitality in the local church. Like mercy, giving, or exhortation, you don't need to have the spiritual gift of hospitality to be hospitable. Every person reaching out to others is how a growing church seems smaller. In a family, no matter how big, no one becomes invisible.

Application Points

  • Relational love is aware of people's needs and thus able to meet them. Do you shepherd someone so personally that you would know if they have a need?
  • Who has personally invested in your life for your spiritual growth? How can you do the same for another?
  • Practicing hospitality doesn't have to be elaborate. Simply invite people you don't know to spend time together, and seek to spiritually encourage them.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Acts 6:1-3, 1 John 3:17 – Providing for true needs is a function of the church.
  • Genesis 18:1-8, Hebrews 13:1-2 – The opportunity for hospitality.