Avoiding Official Religiosity

To be the kind of person that others are thankful for, it means that you'll bring the presence of God into a situation, without being pious and religious.

Scripture: Romans 16:4-5


And hello radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright? Well, I trust everything’s okay at your house and I’m glad to be back with you. And we’re winding up our study in the closing chapters of the Book of Romans. I started with Chapter 12, which is the application portion, you may say, of Romans, and we’ve tried to get some practical help out of it and I trust that that may have been so for many of you.

Every day, before I begin these broadcasts, I pray earnestly that the wisdom, and the love, and the power of God may come through my voice. What I say may be true, but the way it is said makes a great deal of difference. Isn’t that true? And so I just pray that God’s love, and His wisdom, and His grace, and His power, may somehow be in the very tone of my voice, and the words that are said.

We’re looking at Romans 16, where Paul said, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers.” And as I told you, the last time we got together, that means co-workers, ‘sunergos,’ co-workers. They work with me. We talked for a little while about the fact that you don’t work on people, you don’t take over, you work with them. You work alongside of them. Anybody is glad for help that doesn’t threaten. Have you ever had a person come in, ladies, into your kitchen, who ostensibly wanted to be helpful, but who instead, began to tell you what to do? “You shouldn’t have the pots and pans on that shelf. Have them here, they’re easier to reach.” “You shouldn’t make the gravy that way, it’ll be lumpy. Make it this way.” [laughter] Have you had that experience? And you say to yourself… You may not say it out loud because you’re polite… But you say to yourself, “Oh, I wish that she’d leave me alone, so I could do it my way. [chuckle] This is my kitchen!” [laughter] She’s being very helpful but she’s also a threat.

Well, that happens in life, doesn’t it? Of course, it does. And you and I need to learn to work with people, not on them. Be helpful, but not officious. There’s a difference, isn’t there? Oh, yes, there is. He said, “They’re my co-workers, my helpers.” Then he said, “They’ve laid down their own necks for my life,” that is to say, they were willing to place themselves in a position of danger or vulnerability for the sake of the Apostle Paul. The acid test of friendship is this: How much are you willing to let it cost you?

The acid test of friendship is, how much you are willing to let it cost you? Years ago, I had a man look at me and say in a very friendly tone, “You know, Bob, I would help you. I know you’re trying to raise money for the Lord’s work, and I would help you, but I need to buy a set of whitewall tires for my car, so it’ll look better in my business, and so I can’t help you.” [laughter] Now, that was alright, you know, it was his money. After all, he can do with it what he wished. But he was making a choice there, wasn’t he? “I’m your friend and I love you, but I don’t love you that much.” [laughter] Alright. Now, that’s the acid test of friendship, and Priscilla, and Aquila had passed the test, hadn’t they? Paul said, “For my sake, they laid down their own necks,” they were willing to experience a condition of physical danger, or at least, a vulnerability, for the sake of their friend.

Now, how does that apply in our life, day by day? Obviously, you’re not going to go around risking your neck for other people. I don’t think that is the point that is indicated in this verse. Your life is a sacred trust from God and you’re not gonna risk it needlessly for other people. And that goes for overwork, as well as for some of the other risks that people take. Visit a Christian worker in the hospital, after he’s broken down completely, and say, “Well, brother, looks like you’ve been spinning your motor, racing your motor a little bit.” And he says, “Well, I had to, you see, the work demanded it.” No matter now, that his children were neglected, and that his own health was neglected, and that his marriage was fracturing. That didn’t occur to him, at that time, at least. The only thing he had in mind was that the work demanded it.

Well, I think you and I need to realize that God doesn’t ask any of us to go around racing our motor, so to speak, and neglecting the other facets of life, such as family, and children, and your own personal health. Life is a mosaic. It’s a combination of many things and you need to pay attention to all of the various important factors of it. You and I know that, don’t we? But there are times, when, for the sake of someone in the Lord’s work, you and I have to make the decision, “Am I willing to let my concern for this person cost me anything?” That’s the thing that we’re up against. And sure enough, in some cases, you’ll come to a place, where you say, “No, I’m not willing.” Well, that has to be your decision. But where there’s real, real friendship in Christ, the acid test is, how much am I willing to become vulnerable? How much am I willing to let this relationship cost me, in terms of time, or effort, or tears, or money, or whatever? That’s the test. You can really tell who your friends are, when you are in a jam.

Well, Priscilla and Aquila were real friends, weren’t they? “Who, for my life, laid down their own necks. Unto whom, not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.” These people had been helpful, not only to the Apostle Paul, evidently, but to many others. And so Paul was saying, “Lots of people are thankful for these folk.” Small thought here, who is thankful for you? [chuckle] Well, if that’s an embarrassing question, let it be. The list of folk who are thankful for us, may, indeed, be very small, if we narrow it right down to the brutal truth. And maybe we ought to work on that. Sometimes, some people, when they arrive, you say, “Thank God, you’re here.” And other people, when they leave, you say, “Thank God, he’s gone.” [laughter] I don’t know which I am, probably a little of both, maybe. But you and I can very well afford to work on living the kind of life and being the kind of person for whom others can thank God.

Paul said, in writing to some folk, he said, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” In other words, “Every time I think about you, I just thank the Lord for you.” Well, those were good friends, indeed, weren’t they? And so, you and I may very well start to work on being that kind of person. You wanna think about that today, and pray about it? And ask God to make you the kind of person, for whom other people are really thankful. That means you’ll be helpful, without being a threat or officious. That means that you’ll be sympathetic, without being maudlin. That means that you’ll express love, without having any hint of selfishness in it. There isn’t any quid pro quo in love. Love gives freely. It doesn’t expect to get paid back. You’ll express love, without trying to take advantage of it. That means that you will give help and counsel, without intruding upon the other person’s mental and emotional privacy. A delicate line, indeed, but one that you and I need to be aware of.

Very few people are thankful for advice. Many of us are thankful for counsel. There’s a difference, right? Oh, yeah. To be the kind of person that others are thankful for, it means that you’ll bring the presence of God into a situation, without being pious and religious. People instinctively recoil from ‘official religiosity,’ as my father used to call it. I don’t even know if that word is in Webster’s dictionary, but my father used to use it. ‘Religiosity,’ the idea of being officially pious, people recoil from that in ordinary situations, and well, we may. But to have sense of the presence of God in one’s life, is something for which others give thanks. Let’s work on that, shall we? And one way to do it, is to open every room in your heart house to the blessed Holy Spirit of God, because He’ll live up to His name, the Holy Spirit. He’ll make you holy and He’ll make you spiritual, when He, the Spirit of God, takes charge.

Alright, that was kind of a long detour, but it was fun, wasn’t it? So it says, “Likewise,” he says, Verse 5, Romans 16, “Greet the church that is in their house.” Give some thought to using your house for the glory of God. They have now, devices that can actually see what has been taking place, and up to a certain extent here, what has been recorded by inert materials, after it has taken place. That is almost unbelievable, but that’s how far science has progressed. It would seem that the outline of a person, it can be recorded after the person has left, because of the traces of body warmth, and the use of, I guess it’s infrared photography, or whatever it may be. I’m not skilled enough in those areas to explain to you what happens, but as I see it recorded in the press, they have now, techniques to take a picture of a person who isn’t there. [laughter] Imagine. What if there should be a recording embedded in the walls of your house, so to speak, that would, when played back to you, tell all that has gone on in your house: The quarrels, the arguments, the happy times of laughter, and all the rest? “Oh,” you say, “No, not our house. Don’t do that to me!”

Well, of course, Judgment Day, when it arrives, is gonna be precisely that process. All God has to do is turn on the tape recorder of the universe and play it back because no bit of energy is ever lost, as you know. And all of the sounds, and all of the voices, and all of the happenings in all of the world, are never lost to the universe, and all that the God of the universe has to do, is just to turn it on, and play it back to you in full sound and color. And that will be something. Judgment Day will not be a time when God accuses you. All He has to do, is just play it back to you.

Well, I say, if that were possible today, which it isn’t, thankfully, what would be the record of the use of your house? Oh, yes, you keep it clean and shiny. Yes, you have a reasonably happy family. Yes, you do your best to provide a gracious home, occasionally, to visitors, I know that. But what else are we doing, you and I, to use the house, in which we live, for the glory of God? That, I see as being a challenge to all of us today. Because Paul said, “Greet the church that is in the house of Priscilla and Aquila.” Use your house for God. A little Bible class, now and again, a coffee gathering, where people can talk about Jesus, a dinner occasion, where you invite someone whom you want to win for the Lord. However you do it, use your house for God. Good idea? Yes, a very good idea, it seems to me.

Dear Father today, we pray that Thou would help us to use our lives and our homes for Jesus, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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