A weblog of what I'm learning through prayer & scripture
In continuing through Romans, the idea of confident faith in God (as seen in Abraham) keeps coming around again and again. The last post that I made here was on the earlier part of Romans chapter four, in which Paul describes faith as being superior to works alone. Now a little later in this chapter Paul is still speaking on the same subject, including another example from the life of Abraham.
While this passage in Romans is very similar to the beginning of chapter four (faith is of utmost importance), the confidence and peace that comes along with exercising faith as Paul describes stuck out to me. Verses 20-24 say that “Abraham did not waver, but grew strong in faith.” He was “fully assured that what God had promised, He was able to perform.” For me, this is about as black and white as it gets. Do I believe God or not?
Paul finishes by pointing out that Abraham’s faith was “credited to him as righteousness.” God wants us to have confident and true faith in Him. Verse 24 concludes “for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him.” Righteousness and grace is given to us from God when we simply believe Him and live with that confident faith.
An interesting point struck me in the brief passage of Romans 4:2-6. Paul is talking about faith as opposed to works and relating it to Abraham in the Old Testament.
He essentially says that our works cannot even compare to the power of faith. When we try to gain salvation by works, we get whatever we are due, whatever is owed to us for that work. Unfortunately, the “wages” that are due us for our work can never even come close to repaying our debts and justifying us before God. While the works mentality of the law makes sense in our minds, it ultimately leads to death. What God is really after is faith.
Paul points back to Abraham to prove that faith is highly prized by God. The Old Testament is quoted saying that Abraham’s faith and belief in God was credited to him as righteousness by God. Paul drives it home by plainly stating that when we do not work, but instead trust in God who can truly justify us through Christ, we are then given righteousness. Simply, work alone leads to death while faith in Christ leads to life and righteousness.
So often in relationships, the purpose and motivation for my actions becomes all about me. I want to make sure my needs get met first, make sure that my opinion is duly note, and make sure that things happen my way. Aside from being horridly self-seeking, these attitudes can also be very damaging to others and to my relationships with them.
Jesus has given me an example in Himself, and also provided the means of achieving that standard through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I am free to fail at times, but ultimately called to relate differently.
Instead of trying to ensure that my needs get met before I’m willing to meet someone else’s, I can be secure in Christ and focus on loving them first and foremost. Instead of trying to make my every opinion known or push people to do things my way, I can rest in the sovereignty of God and simply listen to others and consider their feelings and logic first.
If there was a formula for making relationships thrive, I am convinced that these principles would be a large part of it.
Most of the time, the topic of “judging” can be very controversial. One one hand, God has explained to us what is right and wrong, and given us discernment to see the difference in ourselves and in others (righteousness is clearly important). On the other, we so often hear scripture quoted like “judge not, lest you be judged” in a defensive way. Judgment is a tricky subject.
In the beginning of Romans chapter two, Paul briefly discusses the topic of judging each other. The main point of his discourse here is that when we judge others, we are often practicing the same things (or maybe other equally wrong things). I would even go so far as to say that people who are being truly righteous probably do not care to judge others on there standard. It seems to be us who are struggling with sin who are quickest to call others on theirs’.
Matthew 7:2-5 is a well-known passage on judgment, essentially saying “remove the log (sin) from your own eye first and then maybe you will be able to better see the speck that you are trying to judge in your brother’s eye.” God obviously does not appreciate when we act hypocritically.
There is a positive side to all of this, however. Romans 2:4 reminds us that God (who is perfect, by the way) has (for now) not shown us the judgmental attitude that we so often have, but instead grace, mercy, patience, and kindness. The passage goes on to say that everyone will be judged eventually, but right now we have been extended immense amounts of grace; why should we not extend it to others?
Perhaps instead of focusing on what people are doing wrong and looking for ways to point that out, we should prioritize showing love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and patience to those around us. Judgment doesn’t bring people into deeper knowledge of Jesus, but the “kindness leading to repentance” does.
I am asking God to keep my heart in line with His - to focus on loving and serving others with grace rather than seeking to elevate myself by tearing others down.
A new, refreshing way for me to look at scripture is to simply read until something sticks out to me and then focus and meditate on that point for the day. I feel like I grasp more and miss out on less with this method. Reading the Bible should not be a goal to be reached as fast as possible, so this keeps me really in tune with hearing from God while reading as well.
Today I began Romans chapter one with this in mind and made it through the first seventeen verses.
While this first section of Romans is generally just an introduction from Paul to the church in Rome, there was an overall tone that struck me. From the simple greeting he uses, to the stories he relates, to the purpose of his decisions, one thing is clear about Paul.
His entire life is wholly about the gospel.
Not much else really matters to Paul aside from the spiritual wellbeing of his churches. He skips the pleasantries and explains that he is overjoyed at the Romans faith, and immediately shares his desire to encourage and teach them again. As a closing thought for this section, we see that Paul again expounds on the power and ultimate importance of the gospel, pointing out that he is not only not ashamed, but “eager to preach the gospel.”
How can my life be so centered on the gospel of Jesus that it seems to burst out from all sides?