Lesson 4 – Love – The Circulatory System of the Church

Love – The Circulatory System of the Church

Lesson Aim:  To show how the behavior of sons of God, while functioning in the body of Christ, develops love without hypocrisy.

Scripture:        Romans 12:9-16.


Word Definitions:       From “An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” by W. E. Vine.

Love (Greek, agape).  See I Corinthians Chapter 13 for an under-standing of agape.

Hypocrisy (anupokritos).  Pretending to act from one motive, whereas another motive really inspires the act.

Abhor (apostugeo).  Denotes to shudder, to hate.

Evil (poneros).  Denotes evil that causes labor, pain, sorrow, malignant evil.

Good (Agathon).  Describes*** what being good in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect.

Brotherly Love (philadelphia).  Two words:  Phileo means to love and adelphia means brotherly; Thus a brotherly relationship, and so, a community possessed of this relation, a brotherhood.

Honor (time).  Primarily a valuing, an advantage to be given by believers one to another, instead of claiming it for self.

Lagging (okneros).  Slothful, shrinking, irksome.

Diligence (skpoude).  Business, zeal, earnestness.

Fervent (zeo).  To be hot, to boil.  For an illustration of fervent in spirit, see Acts 18:25.

Spirit (pheuma).  Primarily denotes the wind.  The spirit, like the wind, is invisible, immaterial, and powerful.

Serving (douleuo).  To be a slave, to serve as a slave to the Lord.

Rejoice (chairo).  Be glad.

Hope (elpis).  Favorable and confident expectation.  It has to do with the unseen and future in Rom. 8:24, 25.

Persevering (hupomeno).  Literally means to remain under, patient.

Tribulation (thlipsis).  Pressing, pressure, anything which burdens the spirit.

Devoted (proskartereo).  To be strong towards, to endure in, to be continually steadfast, as continuing instant in prayer.

Prayer (proseuche).  A pouring out.

Contributing  (koinoneo).  To make common. (fellowship, communion, II Cor. 9:13)

Hospitality (philoxenia).  Two words:  Philas – loving; Xenos a stranger.

Bless (eulogeo).  Speak well of.

Persecute (dioko).  To put to flight, drive away.

Curse (kataraomai).  To wish evil against a person or thing.

Weep (klaio).  To break forth, to wail. 


All bodies have a circulatory system.  Blood is what circulates throughout the human body.  Sap circulates through the vascular system of a plant.  Circulation is essential to a healthy life and vigor of a body.  The church of Christ is the body of Christ; therefore, a healthy church has a circulatory system.  Love is what circulates throughout the membership.  It is not the only thing that circulates throughout out the body; however, love is vital.

The type of love flowing through the body of Christ is translated from the Greek word “agape.”   From our studies in Romans, chapter five, we understand this is the type of love God showed us while we were yet sinners.  It is a parental type love.  It has the quality and strength to love even an enemy.  It does not demand reciprocation.  Jesus used a plant to illustrate how the church should now function in Him.  See John 15:1-11.

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in Him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

To abide in Christ also means to abide in His love (verse 9 in our text).  We must understand how to keep love flowing in the body.  If a member is shut off from love in the body he or she becomes an unhealthy participant.  The church suffers as well as the member (Rom. 15:5, 6).  The church depends upon what every joint supplies (Eph. 4:16).  Jesus cannot be happy with an unhealthy body.  Christians want to learn how to keep love flowing to and through ourselves as a member of the body.

Several things have been included in our text an individual member can do to keep love flowing in the body of Christ in which they are a member.  Please read the scripture text and study the definition of each significant word Paul used to describe a healthy church.  In this lesson we want to learn how to keep the love flowing and also consider some things each Christian is able to be and do to contribute to the body of Christ.


A hypocritical type of love will not make a healthy body (Eph. 3:17-19).  All Christians want to love.  Sometimes we realize the best we can do is offer love in hypocrisy.  The way to turn an unhealthy love into healthy love is to practice loving someone with the motive of seeking nothing from the other person.  Your interest is to help them.  Your interest in helping yourself is to make love a part of yourself.  This is one reason God has given us our church family.  An acute awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives should also help the quality of our love (Rom. 5:5).  The Holy Spirit’s fellowship with faithful Christians’ is our fellowship with God while we live in time on earth “in Christ.”  Another exercise to remove hypocrisy is to abhor what is evil and cleave to what is good.  We look for what is beneficial in its effect.  We hate what causes pain and sorrow to others.

How can we make sure we do not form a “love-clot” in the body of Christ?  We can be devoted to one another in brotherly love (verse 10).  The New Testament church functions as a family of brothers and sisters; therefore, it distinguishes itself from religious groups functioning as a mere organization.  It distinguishes itself from all forms of legalism and ritual.  We are God’s household (Eph. 2:19: Heb. 2:11-13).  We are God’s sons and daughters (II Cor. 6:19; Heb. 12:5-9).  We must think of our church family as an eternal fellowship (I Pet. 1:22, 23).

You can see how a church by practicing brotherly love would stand out in a community.  How about a church that gives preference to one another in honor?   After witnessing all the fighting going on in the world over a small “medal of honor,” or title, it should be refreshing to find a group of people who is willing to wait for their glory in eternity as sons of God.  When members practice brotherly love and at the same time give honor to one another, great things will be added to that church.  Weak members will be lifted up and proud people will become humble (James 1:9, 10).

The manner in which we approach a task indicates our attitude toward those for whom the task is being performed.  A lagging, cool approach will stop the flow of love in the body of Christ.  It also indicates a weakness of faith.    Nearly everyone moves around fervently when we are serving someone we consider important.  When we see our service to our fellow church members as being service to Christ, Himself, we will be “fervent in spirit.”   The church is, indeed, the body of Christ.  When we serve the members of the church, we are “serving the Lord,” because they are members of His body.

Love flows from one member to another on a sports team.  Why?  It is because they share “as one” in the same hope (V. 12).  They hope to share in the honor and glory of victory together.  As spectators, we find ourselves being drawn into the enthusiasm of others who have a strong hope.  As a member of the body of Christ, we encourage the flow of love and strengthen the faith of others by our service.  It happens when members of the church know we are “rejoicing in hope.”  

What is our hope?   We hope to share in the glory of God as His sons in eternity.  For this reason, Christians can be noted by their “persevering in tribulations.”  V. 12.  Yes, even rejoicing in tribulations (Rom. 5:3).  When members of the body of Christ are found rejoicing in hope, we will find people who are patient in their trials.  The result will be strong character; that is, more Christ-like Christians.  “That which every joint supplies” will strengthen the hope of all the members (Phil. 1:9-11).  Of course, a stronger hope will produce more rejoicing, and the cycle goes on and on.

We should test our love to know if it is hypocritical.  The Apostle John questioned the love of a brother who said he loved God, but at the same time, hated his brother.  He said, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar.”  I John 4:20.  Above all, each Christian wants to be sure of the quality of our love.  We all would readily agree our love toward God must be without hypocrisy.  How can we be sure?   Our answer comes from another question.  Do I love my brothers and sisters in the church?  The quickest way to stop the flow of love in the body of Christ is to fail to share when a need arises.  Notice the word “contributing” in verse thirteen.  It means “to make common.”   This is the nature of anybody.  The members in our physical bodies help the weak members.  The vertebras in the human back gets out of joint to offset the effect of another vertebra accidently dislocated.  Helping a needy member may cause Christians to break the routine of our lives.  This is how a body functions.    

But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?   Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.  I John 3:17, 18

When Christians share we keep love flowing in the body; we supply needs for our brothers and sisters; we cause glory to be given to God and we have prayers offered on our behalf.   Read II Cor. 9:13, 14.  The living church of Christ is the greatest group of people who trod this earth at any given period of time since its inception.  We are great because God calls us His people.  However, we should not forget the reason for the “in Christ” realm being established.  It is the realm where sons and daughters of God are developed.  It was developed to make saints out of sinners (I Cor. 6:9-11). 

Every Christian has character defects, especially newborn Christians.  Those of us who remained in the world realm where Satan reigns too long may have many unhealthy emotional attitudes and character weaknesses that will take time and patience to change into the likeness of Jesus.  With this in mind, we will be able to let love flow through us to members who persecute us (V. 14).  Later in this series, we will have a lesson on the weak and the strong.  At this point, we will only say “bless and curse not.”  As has been stated before, because we are the body of Christ, we “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (V. 15).  This is another way to test ourselves.  Am I functioning as a part of the body of Christ?  My answer comes back in a personal question.  Do I rejoice with those who rejoice, and do I weep with those who weep?  If I do not, then I cannot possibly be a viable part of the body.  Members of a body always react in unison to pain or joy, unless of course, they suffer from a lack of love.

The dynamic dimension added to a church that shares in one another’s joys and sorrows is a great blessing.  Moments of joy become much more joyous when we have someone with whom to share.  Notice how children always want to share their moments of joy and sorrow.  The pitch of wailing is brought low when others weep with us.  Jesus wept, not because of the death of Lazarus, but because He shared in the sorrow of those who sorrowed.   He knew He would bring him back to life shortly (John 11:35).  Finally, in verse sixteen of our text, Christians find some other healthy attitudes we personally need to develop, if we will remain a conduit for the flow of love in the body of Christ.  Leaders of Communism had a great dream of a society in which this verse would become a reality.  I am sure the fathers of Communism stole their ideas from the Bible.

Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.  Do not be wise in your own estimation.  Rom. 12:16

Why were the communists not able to attain the doctrine they preached?   One reason is they depended upon a human head for their body.  We have Jesus Christ; our faith in Him as the head will allow us to be of the same mind one toward another.  After all, we are all counted righteous because of our faith.  We are saints because of our attitude as slaves to God’s righteousness.  None of us earned our righteousness or sanctification.  Why shouldn’t we be of the same mind one of another?   What have we to boast about over our brothers and sisters?  “Do not be wise in your own estimation.”

You will not find a diploma on life (zoe) awarded by institutions of men.  There have been no graduates in this field.  Regardless of our technical knowledge or experience our wisdom about life must come from God.  He has revealed it to us “in Christ.”

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’  I Cor. 1:30, 31

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is the type love that circulates throughout the body of Christ?
  2. List the several ways from our scripture text that will let love flow in the body of Christ.
  3. What happens when a member is shut off from love?
  4. What arrangements has God made to help us overcome hypocritical love?
  5. How can the church of Christ distinguish itself from the world’s religious groups?
  6. List the things from our scripture text that are especially good for people who have a low opinion of themselves.
  7. List the things that are good for one who has a problem with pride.
  8. How can we test our love to find out if it is hypocritical?
  9. List three things which will happen when we contribute to the needs of the saints.
  10. How can we know for certain we are viable members of the Lord’s church?


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply