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Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
As we move into chapter 15 this week we find Paul identifying himself among the strong.
Who are the strong?
Remember, they are those who have a fuller understanding about what it means to be justified by faith, not by works—things we do or don’t do.
Remember there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation; it’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Eph. 28-9). God saves us by His grace. Salvation is not a matter of what we do or don’t do—the foods we eat, the money we give, the number of times we show up for church, and all the other things we can do in an attempt to earn God’s love. The mature believer—the strong—understands that we receive His grace when we put our faith in Christ as the One who died for our sins and rose from the dead on our behalf. They understand and receive salvation as a gift from God. It is God who does the work, not us.
When we read our passage we can’t think, “okay then, I’m the mature believer,” and just go about our business. The problem we have is that we waver back and forth between being the “strong” and back to being the “weak.” Whenever we take our eyes and thoughts off of Christ, we tend to put them on us—on our wants and desires, which tend to run counter to God’s desires. When we do this we tend to puff ourselves up, make our walk with Christ about all the things we’re doing for Him, with really is about boasting in—you got it—ourselves!
The better approach is to acknowledge our inability to please God on our own; recognize the power of His kindness and grace towards us. Sometimes I just stop and think about why God would choose to show His grace to me—I’m a failure in so many ways! And yet, He chooses me, for no other reason than He finds pleasure in me. Wow! Isn’t that amazing! The same is true for you… God chooses you because He finds pleasure in you… let that sink in.
When we turn our attention towards God’s great work on our behalf, we can’t help but be filled with love and gratitude towards God. And the cool thing is this: We’re not brought into this relationship with Him to keep it all to ourselves—to be like some spiritual tick and fill ourselves up—no, we’re to look to the good of others. You see God is concerned with people—all people.
So when it comes to disagreements on disputable matters, we can love the weaker person by coming alongside them, deferring to them, and helping them to grow to a fuller understanding of the freedoms they have in Christ. We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about certain disputable matters. We must not just please ourselves, we should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. In fact, look at the words “ought and should.” We can read over those quickly and miss what they mean. Both words mean to have a duty, a moral obligation, they indicate a desirable or expected state.
So where are you at this morning… are you looking inward, are you puffing yourself up, are you looking towards all the things you’re doing to earn God’s favor? If you are, then stop. Realize there is nothing you can do to earn God’s favor. Then take some time and just reflect on what God’s grace has meant for you… Let those thoughts fill you with a love for God and overflow into a love for people, even those you may disagree with. Ask God help you have a better and fuller understanding of the freedom you have in Christ.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the Gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest. Romans 8-16 For You: For reading, for feeding (God’s Word For You – Romans Series Book 2, Keller, Timothy.