Monday, May 13, 2024

2024.05.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 15:1–7

Read Romans 15:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: With whom does the apostle identify in Romans 15:1? What should they do with inabilities (NKJ “scruples”) of the weak? What shouldn’t the strong do? For whose genuine pleasure should each of us labor (Romans 15:2)? Unto what end? Leading to what outcome? Who is the example of this (Romans 15:3)? What was He willing to endure, for Whose sake (cf. Psalm 69:9)? For what were the Scripture written (Romans 15:4)? In order that they might produce what two things in us? To give us what? From Whom do those two characteristics come (Romans 15:5)? Toward whom does He grant that we would reflect His mind toward us? In accord with Whom? What else do we do with one mind (Romans 15:6)? And one in what else? Unto Whom? Who is His Son, Who also glorifies Him with mind and mouth? What else are we to do like Christ does (Romans 15:7)? Unto Whose glory?

For what sort of uniformity should believers immediately strive? Romans 15:1–7 prepares us for the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that believers should immediately strive for the uniformity of conformity to Christ in praise and love. 

The church will always have within it people who are further along in doctrine (the faith), which, due to our inconsistencies, is not necessarily the same as being further along in grace (the “weak” one who heeds the instruction in this part of Romans is certainly acting more by grace than the “strong” one who disregards the instruction for him). 

In the first section that we treated, the apostle applied especially to the weak—not to judge the strong, but to reckon that he will stand because the Lord is His Master. Then in the second section, the apostle applied especially to the strong—not to devalue the weak, but to use his own liberty in a way that treasures the actual sanctification of the one for whom Christ died and in whom God is working. We probably should have taken v1 with that section. Now, at the conclusion of this part of the letter as a whole, the apostle turns us to God’s grace as our ability and God’s glory as our aim, as we navigate the reality of this dynamic that He has built into His church.

Carry the inabilities of the weak (Romans 15:1). The word translated “scruples” is a synonym for “weak.” The idea here is that because of his underinformed conscience, the weak in faith has a disability, and so it is up to the strong (under God) to carry the interaction by a right use of his liberty.

Live for others’ pleasure, for building up into Christ, Who is the great example of this (Romans 15:2-3a). Implied in Romans 15:2-3 is the fact that different sorts of pleasures are being referred to. The strong is not to please his palate (end of Romans 15:1), but to take his pleasure in the Lord, as he lives according to the hope that not only his brother but even his neighbor would come to have his pleasure also in the Lord (Romans 15:2a). In the case of a brother, this is the mindset that will bear the fruit of his being built up into Christ (verse 2b). 

And this is what the Lord Jesus has done for us (Romans 15:3a). He did not do that which was more experientially pleasant (verse 3a, cf. Philippians 2:5–8), but taking His pleasure in God (cf. Hebrews 12:2), did that which would bring us also to have our pleasure in God.

This is living not merely for others but especially for the Lord (Romans 15:3b). Denying ourselves isn’t the only way that taking pleasure in God may require enduring unpleasant circumstances. Those who delight in the Lord, and identify with Him, will often be abused by those who are abusive toward God (verse 3b, cf. Psalm 69:9). But it is worth it to belong to Him and enjoy His inalienable love (cf. Romans 8:35–39, cf. Psalm 44:20–22)!

The Scriptures give us patience and comfort unto hope (Romans 15:4-5a). What does it take to live this way? What does it take to live for the Lord, and to love our brother, so much that we gladly forgo some personal pleasure? It takes patience and encouragement that the Scriptures readily provide (Romans 15:4b), because it is the God of patience and encouragement (Romans 15:5a) Who has caused them to be written (Romans 15:4a) precisely to make us live in hope. If we are rejoicing already in the hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2), which we are already enjoying by His Spirit’s pouring out His love in our hearts (Romans 5:5), then we will gladly imitate Christ’s self-denial.

God gives us from Christ to be like-minded and like-mouthed to Christ unto God (Romans 15:6) and unto one another to God’s glory (Romans 15:7, cf. Romans 15:5b). The patience and encouragement of the Scriptures does not come to us mechanically but personally. It is “according to Christ Jesus” (verse 5b). It is personally given by God (verse 5a). It is given by means of His pressing our minds and mouths into the shape of the God-glorifying mind and mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:6). He makes our adoration of God as Father to mirror His own, so that we will welcome one another for Father’s sake, just as Christ has welcomed us for Father’s sake (Romans 15:7). 

What an incentive this is to restrain our exercise of liberties or to relinquish a judgmental spirit! We are amply repaid by being conformed to Christ’s heart toward both our Father and our brother. And if the Lord has not yet brought us to a uniformity of doctrine and practice (which He will!), is not the sweeter and better part to be brought to a uniformity of praise and love? No wonder the apostle has already begun spilling over into benediction and doxology (Romans 15:5-6, cf. Romans 15:13Romans 15:33)!

What are examples of personal liberties that you can refrain from exercising, in order to make time for building others up? What are examples of personal liberties that you can refrain from exercising, in order to contribute to circumstances that are conducive to building others up? In Whom are all patience and encouragement? What does He especially cause to be used for giving you that patience and encouragement? What use are you making of them for patience and encouragement? What other pleasures will you feel less need/desire of, as your pleasure in Him increases? What has He especially given you/us for increasing our pleasure in Him?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving Christ for us, and for His perfect self-denial. Grant that we would love and glorify You like Christ does, so that we might love and welcome one another as Chris has, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP197  “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

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