This gallery contains 1 photo.
“Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…” Continue reading
For the past two years, I have had a “mantra,” if you will, during my prayer time with God: “LORD, You are GOOD! And Your MERCY endures forever.” Amen! As we continue into Romans 2, I pray that you feel to the depths the goodness and mercy of your Heavenly Father. Please read Romans 2:1-4.
I don’t know if this is statistically correct, but it seems to me that most of the people I know who are unchurched or dechurched avoid Christianity because of the judgments of those who claim to be Christians. Do you think that’s a somewhat accurate statement? Do you know someone, or multiple people, who avoid churches because of the judgment they have experiences at the hands of “loving Christians?” I mentioned in my previous post that a dear friend of mine avoided church because his son was kicked out due to practicing homosexuality. I am NOT getting into the homosexuality debate today, I am simply using it as a very relevant example of judgment in the church driving people away from God instead of loving them to His wonderful face. When you think of the people in your life who turned from church because of similar stories, does it make you sad to the depths of your soul? It absolutely breaks my heart. It is the very people who need God the most that we Christians most often turn away due to our judgmental nature. We all have it. Don’t act like you don’t!! Romans 2:1 says, “You have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges.” I know I am guilty – so often, my first thoughts are judgmental in nature – and this from a single mother at 16 with many years living in rebellion. We each have it in us to be judgmental towards others, simply because their sins are different than ours. That is why this message from Romans is so incredibly important and relevant.
I am so struck by 2:1b-3:
“For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man – you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself – that you will escape the judgment of God?”
Let me reiterate that last bit: Do you suppose, O man… that you will escape the judgment of God? I am reminded of John 8:7 when Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Which one of us can look at God on the day of our judgment and cast blame upon someone else? Is it not only because of Christ alone, that we will even be able to face him?! We cannot cast blame or judgment because we are sinners to the depth of our humanity. Even in the transforming relationship with Christ, we sin and err, we fall off the path, we miss chances to bring glory to our Savior. When we think evil thoughts and judge others Ephesians 2:12 tells us to “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
When we remember ourselves before the redemption found in Christ, it fills us with thankfulness and humility. It is impossible to judge others when you see through the lens of your own filth. When I remember my ugliness, I can do nothing but feel incredible compassion for those that have yet to sit at God’s table; I yearn to invite them to the feast and take them to the One and Only God who can raise them from their dead lives. Next time you find yourself judging someone, remember the words in Eph 2:12 and give yourself over to the humility and compassion that comes with remembering the depths from which God pulled you.
I love this next part in Romans 2:4:
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
I just love Paul – he is so “in your face” sometimes 🙂 Like, “maybe you just think you are entitled to the gifts God bestows upon you?!” Uh-Uh! No. Paul teaches us that God gives us kindness, forbearance, and patience, so that His mercy will lead to repentance. Did you get that?!?!
God meets us where we are – yes, even and especially in our sin. He covers us in the pit with his abundant grace and mercy, knowing that it will guide us into repentance. God can do whatever He wants to do, but according to His incredible love and kindness, He allows us to join and be part of His plan so that we may reap the blessings that come with doing work for God. He desires that we, as Christians, will love people to Him; we would be so welcoming, so kind, so patient, that those mired in sin would feel God’s love raining upon them and be overwhelmed with desire to know Him. It is our job to love people to God – it is God’s job to love them into repentance.
We do not love people to God by throwing their sin in their faces; we do it with compassion, empathy, kindness, and love. You will NEVER get someone to turn to Christ by listing their shortcomings; instead, remember all your shortcomings before Christ was Lord over your life, and see them as a child of God, whom He loves as desperately as He does you.
I just love Paul and his convoluted sentences 😛 I have decided to work my way through Romans because I have been steeped in the Old Testament (OT) for far too long. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE the OT; like, I LOVE it. I might actually prefer it to the New Testament (NT) because I am constantly discovering something new, something that blows my mind; the constant plan of God that looks forward to Christ from the beginning of the time until Jesus’ arrival, and through until his second coming is mind-boggling to me. To me, the OT just shows the extent of God’s faithfulness, love, grace and mercy that is ultimately fulfilled through Jesus in the NT. It’s incredible. However… I am feeling a distinct longing to be back in the NT and renew the glory of Jesus the Messiah – to refresh it in my mind and in my heart. And there are few NT books that I love more than Romans. So, to Romans, and Paul’s convoluted sentences, I return.
I read Romans 1:1-6 and actually had to do a sentence diagram in order to understand it 😛 Please go read it for yourself and either laugh at my lack of understanding or have empathy because of your own 🙂
I love how Paul describes himself: first and foremost a servant. In Greek, this word is doulos, meaning to be “devoted to another’s will in complete disregard of your own.” To be a servant of God is to be completely devoted to His will – no matter how hard, how painful, how scary it may be; completely devoted. Can you say, without a doubt, that you are completely devoted to God’s will for your life? In every single thing, that you are a slave to His purpose over you? Complete devotion to Him does not mean that you are called to a different job, or moving to a different country – it can be as small as making a phone call when He directs you or saying one simple word of encouragement, or just acknowledging someone you’ve never spoken to before.
I had a friend who I thought of like a grandpa; he was the cutest 80 yr old man and I absolutely adored him. He was my client for more than 2 years – I saw him 2-3 xs a week, every week. We had dinner dates (with his wife, of course), and would hang out every once in a while. He was not a believer because he had a homosexual son and the church kicked them out (that is a whole sermon in itself), but he didn’t mind to listen to me talk about God and all the things He was doing in my life and I loved hearing the stories of his life. After I had stopped working due to an injury we kept in touch and continued to do our dinner dates. But one day, I called him to ask him to dinner and he told me that his wife didn’t think it was a good idea that we hang out anymore. Just like that. I was completely heartbroken – I still am. But I tried to respect it and only called him once every couple of months to check up on him, but it felt like his wife didn’t really feel comfortable that he was talking to me either (I still have no idea why) and so I stopped calling. About a year later, God started nudging me to call him and I kept stopping myself from doing it because I knew the man didn’t want me to. I ignored God’s nudging and wrote it off as sentimentality or just plain old missing him. I found out about 6 months later that the time God started nudging me to call him was about the time his wife passed away. By the time I found this out, the man had also passed away about a month earlier. God specifically wanted me to call this man because of what was going on in this man’s life; it could have been one last chance for me to talk to him about God’s unimaginable love for him (and his son), to offer God’s comfort in the midst of his loneliness and pain, but I didn’t listen and missed my chance. When God nudges us to do something- no matter how small it might seem – there is a very important reason why. You could be someone’s last chance to hear to gospel, you could offer the encouraging words that keep someone striving for life, you could simply be the one person who notices another’s presence and lights up their day. We do not have any clue the impact we can have on another. Be a servant, put God’s will above your own – every. single. time. Don’t be like me and miss your chance at helping God change another’s day, life, or eternity.
On a lighter note… Paul continues to introduce himself, saying that he was called to be an apostle. This word “called,” klētos, means to be “divinely selected and appointed.” I just LOVE that. Just a few verses later, Paul tells us that “you [too] are called to belong to Jesus Christ (1:6).” You and I are divinely selected by God. I don’t know if you are like me or not, but it doesn’t matter what I’m being selected to do – I just love that I am purposefully chosen for something 🙂 Beloved, God has purposefully selected you! He chose you before earth’s foundation was laid to be His (Eph 1:4-6)! He loved you so much that He chose you specifically for a purpose: to play an incredible, important and unique role in His plan for the glory of His kingdom! Is there anything more humbling, more beautiful to your spirit than to know that God called you, He purposefully selected you to be His child? ❤
Lastly, Paul tells us that he was set apart for the gospel of God. I love saying this word in Greek: aphorizō! You may chuckle, but you should try it. I swear I feel Greek just saying it 😛 aphorizō! It means to be divinely separated for service, to be divinely commissioned and appointed, separated for special tasks. Check out 2 Tim 2:21: to be set apart as a holy vessel, ready for every good work according to the master. In the OT, it means to be consecrated, to be kept apart from the unholy. I love the implications of this – in the OT, one had to be kept apart to remain holy; by contrast however, in the NT, it is because you are holy in Christ that you are to go into the unholy world to spread God’s cleansing Word. We may be set apart for the task to which God has called us within the world, but hear this: we are NOT set apart from the world. Each of us are special, are divinely appointed for specific tasks that God lays before us but more often than not, those tasks for which we are divinely appointed are in the world, shining the love of Christ into the darkness.
I had fully planned on talking about the whole introduction, but God simply took over and showed both me and you who we are in Him. Beloved, we are to be servants of the Sovereign King over all creation, we are divinely selected for His purposes, and we are set apart for every good work He planned for our lives. Are you humbled this morning? Excited to be called, to be chosen, to be set apart for specific tasks that only you can do? I know I am!
Thank you, Jehovah Raah, for leading us in Your way. Thank you for allowing us to be part of building your kingdom; for loving us so much that you chose us as your heirs. You are amazing, You are awesome, Sovereign God. Give us ears to hear your direction and the courage to take it. Your will be done. Amen!!