It's good to make plans & have ambition, but hold on to them lightly!
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Romans 15 (ESV)
1 We who are strong have an obligation
to bear with the failings of the weak,
and not to please ourselves.
2 Let each of us
please his neighbor
for his good,
to build him up.
3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written,
“The reproaches of those who reproached you
fell on me.”
4 For whatever was written in former days
was written for our instruction,
and through the encouragement of the Scriptures
we might have hope.
5 May the God
of endurance and encouragement
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.
welcome one another
as Christ has welcomed you,
for the glory of God.
8 For I tell you
became a servant
to the circumcised
to show God’s truthfulness,
in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs,
9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
As it is written,
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”
10 And again it is said,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”
12 And again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse will come,
who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”
the God of hope
fill you with
and peace in believing,
by the power of the Holy Spirit
you may abound in hope.
14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers,
that you yourselves
are full of goodness,
filled with all knowledge
and able to instruct one another.
15 But on some points
I have written to you very boldly
by way of reminder,
because of the grace given me by God
16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus
to the Gentiles
in the priestly service of the gospel of God,
the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable,
sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
17 In Christ Jesus, then,
I have reason to be proud of my work for God.
18 For I will not venture to speak of anything
except what Christ has accomplished
to bring the Gentiles to obedience—
by word and deed,
19 by the power of signs and wonders,
by the power of the Spirit of God—
from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum
I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;
20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel,
not where Christ has already been named,
lest I build on someone else’s foundation,
21 but as it is written,
“Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.”
22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you.
23 But now,
since I no longer have any room for work in these regions,
and since I have longed for many years to come to you,
24 I hope
to see you
as I go to Spain,
and to be helped on my journey there by you,
once I have enjoyed your company for a while.
25 At present, however,
I am going to Jerusalem
bringing aid to the saints.
26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.
27 For they were pleased to do it,
and indeed they owe it to them.
if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings,
they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.
28 When therefore I have completed this
and have delivered to them what has been collected,
I will leave for Spain by way of you.
29 I know that
when I come to you
I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.
30 I appeal to you, brothers,
by our Lord Jesus Christ
and by the love of the Spirit,
to strive together with me
in your prayers to God
on my behalf,
31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea,
and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints,
32 so that by God’s will
I may come to you with joy
and be refreshed in your company.
33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Romans 15 Summary
Paul makes three points in the opening section of chapter 15:
- Those who are strong must seek to build up those who are weak;
- God's Word was written to give you endurance, encouragement and hope;
- Accept one another in the church despite whatever differences we have.
We get a sort of 'behind the scenes' look at Paul's life as he tells of his desire to plant the seed of the gospel in new fields, as well as of his current plans to go back to Jerusalem with money collected to help Christians there who are enduring a famine.
His ultimate dream is to head west to Spain with the Gospel, stopping in Rome along the way. Although it seems like he has everything figured out, God has different plans for him. Paul will certainly end up in Rome, just not at all the way he intended.
Certainly the Apostle Paul's life is closely aligned with God's will, and it seems very clear to Paul that God is calling him to bring the gospel to Spain. He just had to make a quick drop off of the benevolence offering the gentile church had taken for their poverty stricken brethren back in Jerusalem and he'd be on his way.
But of course we know from reading the book of Acts that things didn't exactly turn out that way. Paul's arrested by the 'unbelievers in Judea' he mentions in v31, and after years of sham trials, ends up being shipped to Rome as a prisoner where he'll ultimately be executed.
All of this is a lesson for us to hold on to our plans very lightly, even when we're convinced they're fully aligned with God's will. Full alignment means we are fully ready to set our plans and ambitions to the side so that God's will can be done, because we remember what we read a few chapters ago: that God is working out all things for our good.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The God who gives endurance and encouragement (v5), the God of hope (v13), the God of peace (v33)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for the ability to always be ready to reformulate your plans, even when you thought you were dialed into God's will previously.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: