Paul concludes this letter to the Romans with a beautiful benediction. First, however, he calls out a special greeting to those believers already in Rome. If he hasn’t come to Rome yet, it seems hard to fathom how he already knows so many people there. Especially without social media! It’s hard to imagine what life was like. But Paul had already started building relationships with many people who now apparently have moved to Rome.
We are all missionaries when it comes to sharing the Gospel. Jesus has entrusted each of us to tell of his love and sacrifice. When we tell others, and they tell others, there is a ripple effect. We can’t let the ripple die out. We need to be encouraging each other at all times to keep the ripple moving.
Paul is looking forward to meeting the Christians in Rome, but he’s got some difficult tasks facing him before he can do so. He is sending a request for prayer in this passage. That’s a good reminder to us to be asking our own brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us.
How many times have you told someone, “I’ll pray for you.” There is comfort in those words. Many times, that’s the best thing we can offer to do. God is a better problem solver than we could ever dream of being. I don’t know about you, but I so much more prefer to pray right there on the spot when someone shares a prayer request. I remember the first time someone did that with me. We were standing in the middle of a hotel lobby. Not the most opportune location, but once in prayer I didn’t really care. Sometimes timing or location doesn’t allow for that, but how affirming and calming the instant prayers can be.
We all want to have a purpose in life. I remember as a teenager sitting at the kitchen table as I often did after everyone had gone to bed. I had my pen and paper. I would write and write, journalling whatever came into my head. Years later I read through those late night scratches and see how I was wrestling with God wondering why he put me on this planet. Have you ever wondered that?
It seems like some people have it all figured out. It’s as if their life has a script or something. Mine hasn’t, and I continue to ask God to show me what his plan is for me. I feel like I have so much more to give. I just want to be clear like Paul on what my mission is. Paul told the Roman church his mission was to make sure the Gentiles who have not heard about Jesus hear about him. Paul’s job is to be a missionary to the Gentiles, to us.
You’ve probably met people like me, and perhaps this describes you, too. Always striving to please, be liked, make others comfortable. I often take it a step too far when I try to “fix” things. My efforts are sometimes welcomed, and other times I just mess things up worse with my silver lining kind of attitude. Well, the opening verses of this chapter sure made me smile.
I suppose a lot of my joy bubbles up from inside because I know who I belong to. I am the daughter of a king. My Lord and Savior has my back. No matter what life throws my way I have His love and promise of eternity. The same is available for you, too! How does that make you feel?
So many nuggets in today’s reading. Was there one, in particular, that spoke to you? Feel free to share in the comments. What came to mind to me was the idea of entitlement. When you look around you see people’s attitudes being shaped by what they believe they want or are entitled to have. The cries for social justice and equality are heard daily. I’m not saying those are bad things in and of themselves, but when they cause us to stumble or trip someone else up, we need to be careful.
The example Paul gives here involves food and drink. As long as I have known David, he is careful to never accept an alcoholic beverage when in the company of an alcoholic. These verses seem to be the inspiration for his behavior. When we were in recovery ministry, we would hear time and again how difficult it was to be in a bar setting, for example, when trying to stay alcohol-free. It is clear in this passage we should be careful in our own behaviors so that others don’t stumble.