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.
“1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.”
Remember that Paul is using a diatribe. It’s here that Paul imagined someone breaking into his argument and saying, “Well then, if it is being a Jew inwardly that counts, if it is the ‘circumcision’ of the heart that matters, is there any advantage in belonging to the Jewish nation or in being physically circumcised?” You can sense their dismay, as they would have thought that Paul’s teaching undermined God’s covenant. This would have been shocking to his Jewish readers. “What then is the advantage of being a Jew?” was a pertinent question after the stinging indictment previously laid out against his Jewish brothers in Romans 2.
Paul’s response was not what we might expect. Instead of saying “None at all!” Paul said there was great value “Much in every way!” It was just a different value than what they thought; it was a value of responsibility rather than security.
Remember that they were the custodians of God’s special revelation; they were entrusted with God’s own Word. Jews had knowledge of God’s purposes for humanity through their scriptures. In a sense, they were bearers of God’s promises. They were the race through which the Messiah came to earth and they were the beneficiaries of covenants with God Himself. To be custodians of God’s special revelation was an immensely privileged responsibility; it had been given to no other nation than theirs.
These privileges didn’t make them any better than anyone else. In fact, because of these privileges, Jews were even more responsible to live up to God’s requirements. They would lose sight of these responsibilities and would focus their attention on what they thought would be their security. This only led to a false belief that God’s righteousness would guarantee Israel’s immunity from judgement, which was what Paul flatly denied.
It’s easy to see how the Jews could lose sight of the responsibility they had. You and I can make this same mistake if we’re not careful. Here’s how I think it happens: You come to the knowledge of Christ; you’ve seen the depth of your own brokenness and how hopeless things have been. Christ is your only hope, so in desperation you cry out to Him to rescue you. For months -maybe even years -you understand what has been done for you. You start to employ the spiritual disciplines in your life…you grow in your knowledge of Him. But as you grow, day in and day out, you practice spiritual disciplines…bible reading, prayer, and quiet times. All of a sudden, these things that seemed to be foundational in your walk, begin to just be routine. You start to just go through the motions. Soon, your bible reading time becomes something you’ve just got to do, instead of something you get to do.
We can’t let this happen to us…we’ve got to keep the gospel fresh in our mind. We’ve got to be on guard against letting our relationship become something we “just do.” If we’re not careful, we can fall into the same trap that Paul talked about.
As believers in Christ, we have been given a trust…the gospel! A message that sets us free from sin and one that we need to share with others. We can never lose sight of this great privilege we have.
*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.