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Monday, August 30, 2010

Roaming Through Romans (Chapters 15 and 16)

Roaming Through Romans
Chapters 15 and 16

Romans 15:7 reads: “Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” And Romans 15:1 and 2 tell us: “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.”

Here we have it again. It’s all about our love and acceptance of one another in Christ. It’s so important to the Lord that we love each other. It means so much to Him when we receive one another as He has received us. And He waits and hopes that we bear with each other’s weaknesses as He bears with us. That we built each other up and respect one another. These issues are so close to our Lords’ heart. And we find it so easy to let Him down.

This month I have had the sorrow of watching a loving Christian family be torn apart. – Mother-in-law against son-in-law, mother against daughter, and son against mother. False accusations abound, and everyone is hurt. My heart has been broken just watching and the Lords’ heart has been broken too. Satan wants to break up families and shut down loving communications. God calls us as His children to help loved ones stay connected, to pray for reconciliation, and to bear with the scruples of the weak.

All through the Bible God calls us to love and accept one another as He has loved and accepted us. And He continues His call for acceptance and love in these last chapters of Romans. Romans 15:5 tells us that our comforting and patient God will grant us the grace to be like minded with one another. It reads: “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.” I would think that we have to want this help from God, this ability to be like minded to others. God won’t force it on us if we harden our hearts towards those we don’t like and don’t want to change.

I like to believe that Romans 15:5 is telling us that God is patient with us when we are having misunderstandings with loved ones and acquaintances. And that He is a God of comfort who will comfort us when we are having personal problems with others and give us grace for those difficult people, if we ask for that grace. And if we are in the wrong and are acting in an unloving manner, God is patient with us and will change us to act lovingly if we let Him.

Sometimes we find it difficult to forgive those who have sinned against us. It’s at such a time that we have this comfort from God. He promises here in Romans to give us a special gift that will enable us to be like minded and forgiving towards the people who are against us. Next time we have an argument, let’s take what God is offering us, -His comfort and His gift of granting us the ability to be like-minded with the opponent. We don’t have to agree with our opponents but with Gods’ help we can at least see their point of view and forgive them.

We have finally come to the last chapter of this marvelous book of Romans, chapter sixteen. This last chapter begins by introducing Phoebe to the Roman congregation. According to many scholars it was Phoebe who carried Paul’s written book of Romans to the congregation in Rome. Paul calls Phoebe a servant of the church and a sister who has been a helper of many. Paul continues in this last chapter, naming many of the Roman believers and sending them personal messages and greetings.

Then he instructs the church in Rome to avoid anyone who causes divisions or offenses that are contrary to the doctrine. Romans 16:17 reads: “Now, I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.” It’s so easy for false doctrine to creep into the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Lord through Paul reminds us here in Romans sixteen to defend our precious faith and stay away from those who would tear it down.

Paul continues in verse nineteen: “…but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” This isn’t the first time that God’s Word has instructed us to be simple concerning evil. Ephesians 5:12 says: “It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” And 1 Corinthians 14:20 states: “Brothers, stop thinking like children, In regard to evil be babes, but in your thinking be mature.” What do these verses mean? Could it mean that Christians should be mature in their faith but not try to become experts about all of the details of evil deeds?

Paul concludes his famous letter to the church in Rome with a prophetic benediction which begins like this. “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ,…” Romans 16:25a. We are reminded along with the church in Rome that it is God who establishes us in our faith when we hear and believe the preaching that Jesus Christ died to save us.

The preaching of Jesus Christ is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who believe it is the power of God. Our little part is to believe and follow Christ and God’s part is to establish us and hold onto us. And that is the main message all through the sixteen chapters of the book of Romans.


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