ROMANS 15:5-7: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: What about my rights? What about what I want? What about what I need? All of these questions are promoted in the culture in which we live. We live in an age of entitlement, an age of self-fulfillment. The pursuit and discovery of “self” is deemed the highest achievement by our modern day pundits. Yet, this pursuit, this focus on me, my, and mine – misses the core of the Gospel message and the call of the Cross!\
Paul exhorts us in both Romans chapter 14 and 15 to live in consideration of our brothers and sisters in Christ. He does not call us to live in a way that accepts their differences, but keeps them at arms length. He calls us to live a sacrificial lifestyle that puts their needs and their weakness above our rights and our desires. The call of the believer is exactly opposite of the mantra of our world. It is not about my rights, it is about willingly and lovingly deferring to the rights of my brother in Christ. It is not about what I want, but it is about what God wants. It is not about what I need, but about what my brother needs to grow in Christ. It is about giving, not receiving.
This is an impossible call apart from our new life in Christ. Paul commends us to the Scriptures and the example of Jesus’ life as a source of encouragement and strength. Then Paul prays – “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ…” We are not left to our own strength, our own ability! We have the God of endurance and encouragement ready to give us the ability to walk in this high calling of love in Christ Jesus. Think of the relationships that could be saved, the church splits that could be avoided, the families that could be rescued – if we called upon the God of endurance and encouragement!
This call is not without a focus. We are not called simply to endure for endurance sake. We are not called simply to defer for deference sake. We are called to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters so that we might “…with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our unity gives glory to God! Our unity testifies to the power of God’s love! Our unity is the loudest witness we can give to a dying world of the truth of the Gospel. Jesus prayed – “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:22-23 ESV)
Father God of endurance and encouragement, grant us the grace to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Grant us the grace to walk in love toward our brothers and sister, not seeking our own, but the benefit and growth of others. Grant us the grace to give You glory through our one united voice, as we proclaim the Gospel to a dying world through our united love in Christ Jesus. In Jesus Name!