I had forgotten how much I love this chapter. There are so many helpful things, I’m going to break it into a couple of days. But the overall theme is unity. Paul starts by addressing the relationships between people who are strong in their faith and weak in their faith. When differences of opinion arise, and they will, he cautions both sides to seek unity and avoid confrontation, which can quickly escalate to condemnation.
Romans 14 might be one of those chapters you bookmark to return to time and time again. Such profound truth on unity in relationships. After all, we are continually meeting and interacting with new people. That’s the beauty of life and building relationships. What are Paul’s three nuggets of wisdom for this? Let’s check it out.
Have you ever felt obligated to love someone? In one of my translations, this was spelled out as the “debt of love for others.” Interesting. Jesus wants us to love one another, and Paul reminds us of that here. To love your neighbor as you love yourself.
The debt of love starts with Jesus. His great love for us was poured out when he sacrificed his life for ours. We can never repay Jesus for what he did for us, so we obey him and love others. If we’re having trouble loving ourselves just now, remember to love as Jesus taught us, to love others as he has loved us.
Paul warns us here that time is running out. We must be ready. Many years have passed since Paul wrote these words, yet we still look forward to the imminent return of Jesus. We want to be ready. We want to be clean. I liked the image of shedding dirty clothes. We can all think of habits and tendencies in our lives that aren’t helpful. What are you doing to avoid evil and step into the light?
Have you ever exceeded the speed limit? I know I’m not the only lead foot to walk around this planet. Moving to Mexico has definitely changed all of that. We really can’t drive fast on the cobblestone. And on the highway, there’s something about looking down and seeing “100” on my dashboard. We’re in kilometers here. (So, like 62 mph.) I feel like I’m flying!
This text was one I would read to keep me paying attention to the speed limit. It’s a law after all. And today’s reading tells us “Everyone must submit to governing authorities.” I remember the first time I was directed to this passage. It was probably after receiving a speeding ticket or being put in my place after talking about my propensity to exceed the speed limit. Until that day, I had no idea it was also a Biblical truth I should be obeying.
There are so many little gems in today’s reading, all pointing toward making us better human beings in our relationships with others. What do we see?
The first one is probably one of the hardest. We are to bless those who have wronged us or hurt us in some way, especially for our faith. What does he mean here, to bless? I suppose the opposite of curse. Forgiving is not to condone their actions, but it does cleanse our own heart.
Remember the “Love Is..” comics? I wanted to use one for the graphic today but I couldn’t find one that was available for reuse. You’ll have to google that if you don’t remember. Paul continues to lay out some directions for how we should live and what love should look like.
After all, Jesus told us to love one another. That can be a new concept for many. Sometimes it’s hard to even love ourselves. But let’s take a look at what Paul is telling us here.