************ Wedding Sermon on Romans 12:9-13; 2 Timothy 1:7 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on October 27, 2012
Wedding Sermon of Chuck & Amanda Mead
(Romans 12:9-13) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (10) Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. (11) Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (12) Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (13) Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
(2 Timothy 1:7) For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
Chuck & Amanda, the Greek word for love in both your texts is "agape." This is the word the Bible uses to describe the love of Jesus.
(1Jn 4:10) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.Jesus shows us agape love makes sacrifices for the benefit of the other person. Agape love is a "giving" love. Agape love seeks to give rather than to get. Agape love keeps on loving even when the other person doesn't respond; agape love keeps on loving without asking for anything in return. Love, agape love, Chuck & Amanda, is the starting point.
Now, I want you to notice what your wedding text builds on this foundation. It tells us that agape love "must be sincere." The English word for "sincere" comes from two Latin words, "sine cera," meaning "without wax." "Sine cera" is an expression used by pottery makers. At the time of Jesus and Paul, dishonest dealers would accept cracked figurines and fill the cracks with wax before offering them for sale. But honest merchants would display their uncracked pottery with signs that read, "sine cera," "without wax." In other words, their pottery was not cracked or broken in any way.
"Love must be sincere." Without wax. This means agape love must be from the heart. It must be free from hypocrisy or pretense. It must be shown and given not for your sake but for the sake and good of the other person.
Judas is probably the best example of an agape love that was not sincere: in the Garden of Gethsemane he came to Jesus and kissed Him (Mt 26:49). Jesus exposed the true nature of Judas' love when He said, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" (Lk 22:48). In my ministry I have across more than one couple who made a big pretense of loving each other – in public anyway – while at home they fight like cats and dogs; we would have to say their love also is not sincere. Jesus, of course, is the best example of an agape love that was and is always sincere.
Notice what else your text says: "Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." By "evil" your text means what is "harmful, damaging, offensive, abusive." By "good" your text means what is "gentle, tenderhearted, kind." When we join this to agape love, we see that agape love strives, to the very utmost of its power, to avoid anything which is harmful, injurious, damaging, offensive, or abusive to the other person. Within the marriage relationship there is to be no physical, mental, verbal, or emotional abuse. Rather, both partners are to be gentle and tenderhearted towards each other.
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love." Here we see the use of another Greek word for love: the word "philos." "Philos" is a "sharing" love. As we talked about in pre-marital counseling, you need common interests, common attractions, and a sharing of many things. Husband and wife are to spend time with one another, take walks on the beach with one another, run half marathons with one another, and talk with one another.
"Honor one another above yourselves." Both partners are to take the lead in showing respect to and for the other person – especially in public. One of the things that we discovered in pre-marital counseling is that both of you can be really, really stubborn. When you dig in your heels, especially about dumb little things, you are not honoring the other person.
"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Chuck and Amanda, I don't know if either of you plan to garden flowers or vegetables at your new home. But if you do, you will discover that vegetables and flowers don't just grow anywhere. They need the right kind of soil and care. Likewise, you need the right kind of soil to grow agape love. Agape love flourishes in only one kind of soil: a heart that serves the Lord, and loves the Lord, and worships the Lord, and spends time with the Lord in Bible reading and prayer.
"Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Notice, too, that agape love does not mean you can shut yourself off from all others. Over the years, I have noticed something about young couples. They are so in love – which is a good thing – that they fail to notice the needs of others – which is a bad thing. Keep in mind, Chuck and Amanda, that there are other people out there. Christians. Some are lonely. Some are poor. Some are hurting. Some are sick. They need your love and time and attention too. And, don't forget, you need good Christian friends too.
Agape love is so easy to pledge. On the wedding day and during the honeymoon and the first weeks or months of marriage both of you, I am sure, will strive to give this love. But you will not always find it to be so easy and natural to give this love. There are at least two reasons why I say this.
First, we are sinners. We are sinners filled with evil, hate, lust, greed, envy, malice, anger, discord, selfish ambition, and the like. All of these prevent us and hinder us from always having and showing agape love.
Second, we live and work in a world which focuses on the self rather than the other. Self-centered, self-fulfillment, self-pleasure, self-glory – these all characterize the modern man and woman. Today, it is all about me, my wants, my needs, my desires. This too does not help the cause of agape love.
Do you know what we need to make agape love work? Do you know what we need to show agape love? We need God. We need God at work in us. We need God changing our heart. Here is where your second text comes in: "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." Did you hear that? "God gives us a spirit of love." God gives us the spirit of Christ's agape love. God at work in us enables us sinful, fallen creatures to show love in marriage, at work, at play, at church, and wherever else God leads us. God at work in us enable us sinful, fallen creatures to show agape love.
Chuck and Amanda, I have every confidence that this agape love will be at work in both of you and in your marriage. Why do I say this? Why can I say this? Because you have both confessed faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. You both have stood before God and His people and announced to all that you love the Lord and want to serve Him. And, you have told me you want to serve God in your marriage. In other words, God has given you, God has worked in you, a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
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