Do you find it hard to trust a bully? Maybe you’re holding on to a memory from childhood of someone who mistreated you, called you names, etc. Then, years later you see them at the mall, and they seem friendly and welcoming. People can change, yet we hold our old memories close before trust will come.
You can imagine how Paul felt going before the apostles of Jesus. They would surely recognize him as the bully to Christians. But God had intervened. Paul was no longer against Christ, but for Christ, now on a mission from Jesus himself to reach the Gentiles. His job was not to convert Gentiles to Judaism, but to introduce them to salvation through Jesus Christ.
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.
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?
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.
Because we are sinful humans, we tend to be at odds with each other. It was true for the folks in Ephesus, and it’s true for us today. Paul focuses on unity in the passages we are reading here, and there are some great nuggets of wisdom that stand the test of time.
Today we need to pick up a mirror. It’s easy for us to say we are pure and blameless. But when we look in the mirror, who do we see? If we are true to ourselves, we see a sinner who needs a savior. We see a believer who may be holding on to a grudge, judging their neighbor, or not trusting God with their life. Take a moment to really dig deep. There is something you lust for, something that is keeping you separated from God, something you need to cleanse. Continue reading “Ephesians 4:17-27 – It’s All About Unity”