“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1 ESV)
We talked in the last chapter of how we are not be a stumbling block for our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we feel the freedom to exercise certain freedoms in Christ but a brother may look on what you are doing as sin, we should exercise caution in our practices so as not to cause them to sin. Paul is taking this a step further. We are not to just not cause our brother to sin, but we are to use our strength in Christ in order to serve our brother or sister in Christ. We don’t use our Christian walk to serve ourselves only. However, we should use our strength in order to support our brothers and sisters. When we are serving it is not just to please ourselves but to serve with the common good in mind. It is meant to build up the body of believers.
“For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.’” (Romans 15:3)
Jesus is our ultimate example and Jesus never did anything to put himself first. We are to do the same thing when we are in a place of service in the church or serving our neighbors or friends and family. We are to always bear in mind others and especially if the others we are serving are not as mature in their faith.
Paul gives the Romans (and us) a little prayer:
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
The goals of the church and the goal of ours as Christians is to glorify God with one voice.
In verses 7-13, Paul is emphasizing his point. We are to “welcome” one another or receive one another just as Christ received us, “for the glory of God”. Jesus earthly ministry was to confirm the promises given in the old testament and Gentiles (we) were brought in so that we could glorify God. Our offerings of service are acceptable to God when the purpose of them is to glorify Him and not to glorify ourselves. Another prayer and blessing ends this section.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
When we are filled with His joy and peace and serve in a way that is only to glorify Him then we will be serving with a common bond.
The next section (verses 14-21) kind of tickled me just a little. Paul has spent the last 14 chapters laying a lot of tough thoughts down to the Romans. He has given them instruction on how to walk this path of the Christian life, but in this section, he wants to complete his words to them by building them up. Paul is preparing to bring his letters to a close so he wants to remind them. Although he has “written very boldly” to them, he also knows that they are good and they are knowledgeable and that they can instruct each other in these ways. Paul is letting them know his ministerial credentials again and that he is proud to be called by God and that he is a minister to the Gentiles. Paul lets them know that his calling and his desire is to preach the gospel in new places. All ministers and all of us have a calling put on our lives. And it will be different for each of us. Paul makes it clear many times over and over in his letters that his calling was to the Gentiles.
The last verses of this chapter Paul is simply letting the Romans know of his plans. Paul had plans to visit Rome. But first he had a trip planned to Jerusalem. Paul also asks them to pray for him on his journey.
“I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” (Romans 15:30-33)
Lord, I pray that as we serve You that You will show us the best way to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. Lord may we never be stumbling blocks, may we only be of service to each other in one thought and one mind with the Spirit so that we will glorify You!