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. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.'”
Paul turns now to Jesus as an example of the attitude that believers should imitate. It comes from Psalm 69. It’s the Psalm of the righteous sufferer; the New Testament often applies it appropriately to Christ (the ultimate Righteous Sufferer).
Notice what it tells us about Christ: He was willing to endure shame for the benefit of His Father and consequently for those who would put their trust in Him. He lived to please His Father, not Himself. So even as Jesus served those who were insulting and attacking him, he continued to love them, he was willing to take their insults and attacks because of His love for God. Paul shares this example with us because he wants the strong to know that they too should be willing to serve in Christ-like love even with those who insult and attack them.
If you’re like me, when someone insults you, you can have a strong desire to strike back. We have this internal cry for justice. It’s what seems to always raise its head first. However, as I’ve gotten older and walked longer with Jesus, this tendency has gotten smaller—which is a good thing. Anytime we can follow Jesus’ example it’s a win for us!
I was recently talking with my son Aaron about Jesus and the Gospels. He was telling me how he had been noticing how relaxed Jesus was in Matt 26:3-7 and how at this point, Jesus has already predicted His death three times, and from other stories, we know He knows the thoughts of others. So, He knows Caiaphas is seeking to arrest Him, yet there he is at Simon the leper’s house reclining at the table. I think that’s a cool observation.
Why was Jesus not rattled? I think it was because of His love for God and people. He knows what mattered the most… His steadfast love for God. This is what allows Jesus to relax even when He knows the hearts of those who would seek to harm Him. This is what Paul is challenging the “strong” to do. Essentially Paul is telling us: the strong should be willing to serve people in love (just like Jesus did), even when it’s hard, even when it comes from those who insult and attack them.
So how do we do what Paul is calling us to do? Know this: you and I can love people, even the hard folks in our lives, because of justification. We have been made right with God through grace, by faith, in Christ alone. The fuller the understanding of what has been done for us, the more we can love God and people. As we live the Gospel-centered life we ought to be growing kinder and sweeter, as we grow in Christ-likeness.
Take some time today and think about what it means for you to have been justified in Christ before God. See if it doesn’t make you want to breakout into praise for God in acts of service to others. See if it doesn’t help you understand that what matters most in the end matters most now. It’s true… most of the things that get us “wrapped around the axle” matter very little in the end.
*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.