Going Belly-Up

December 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Romans | 2 Comments
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In his letter to the Romans the Holy Spirit had the Apostle Paul save his greetings for his friends and his notes of thanks for the end of the letter.

Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.

Romans 16:7-9

Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

Romans 16:13

Note how the Apostle Paul not only knew his fellow-laborers by name, but he also knew their various accomplishments and things about them personally. It probably makes you feel important when your fellow-ministers at church remember your name, but it’s even better to be remembered for how you’re serving.

I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

Romans 16:22

Imagine the excitement of Tertius! There he was, taking dictation from the Apostle Paul who was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and all of a sudden he gets the chance to put his own little salutation in there! These words became part of the Living Word – to last and be known for all eternity! You and I will never be inspired to add to the Bible, but let me encourage you to listen closely in church. The Lord was speaking to the Apostle Paul, and Tertius was listening and diligently taking it all down, and suddenly the Holy Ghost was speaking directly to him.

These servants of God listed at the end of Chapter 16 have their names preserved for all time in God’s Word, along with the honor of having their character and integrity mentioned. By the same token there are others who were not worthy to have their names preserved in the Scriptures. Although they were also known for their character, they were known for having a bad character.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

Romans 16:17-18 (emphasis added)

Some Bible versions say “watch out” instead of “mark,” but the idea of “watching out” is too general because we are talking about people who have shown their character. Once they have established what they are about, we are to place a mental label, or “mark,” on them. They cause divisions and offenses contrary to the Apostolic doctrine, but the verse does not say to confront them every chance you get. It does not say to go around telling everyone every bad thing you can about them. It does not say to formulate a plot and plan to get rid of them. No, it says to avoid them. They are such that serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own “belly.” “Belly” is sometimes translated as “appetite,” but the fact is, we can’t always see someone’s “appetite.” Everyone can see a big ol’ belly sticking out. “Appetite” is too neutral. You could have an appetite for good things. But those who “serve their own belly” are guilty of more than just mistaken desire. They have a greedy desire to cause trouble: divisions and offenses. The bigger their bellies get, the greater their hunger is. They see a local church assembly as an all-you-can-eat buffet. They will fill up their bellies with strife, contention, and trouble until someone stops putting more food in front of them.

That’s one reason why it is so important to get acquainted intimately with the people you are ministering alongside at church.

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

I Thessalonians 5:12

One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

Titus 1:12 (emphasis added)

We have to be on the lookout for those who want to push a false doctrine through division and strife. The Bible says they will use good words and fair speeches to deceive the hearts of those who don’t know better, but by their bellies you will know them.


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