Sunday, February 19, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Romans 15-16
We come to the close of Paul’s epistle to the believers in Rome with a wonderful portrait of sincere love and compassion (Romans 15) followed by abundant loving salutations on behalf of the saints who were in Paul’s company (Romans 16).
Continuing his exhortation for believers to extend grace and love to the brethren, Paul exhorts the “strong” [i.e. mature in the faith] to “bear [endure; receive] the infirmities [weaknesses] of the weak [i.e. weak in the faith; immature], and not to please i.e. boast; think better of]” themselves (15:1). This spiritual principle is one of the great failings of late 20th century fundamental churches. While weaker and immature believers struggled with carnality, too often it was those older in the faith who judged and condemned evidencing little loving compassion and understanding. Sadly, while the carnal and immature accused those older in the faith of being legalists, the elders judged and condemned the carnal. What a sad testimony of spiritual cannibalism!
Before I move on and, lest weak, immature believers boast they have a right to demand liberty in carnal practices, Paul explains the goal in those who are “strong” extending grace to the weak:
Romans 15:2 – “Let every one of us please [i.e. to soften the heart of] his neighbor for his good [benefit his character] to edification [build up spiritually].”
Tragically, the 21st century has given rise to a generation of spiritual leaders who, avoiding the label “legalist”, are tolerant of a generation of “weak”, carnal church members and student bodies. Instead of “pleasing” (i.e. lovingly confronting sin and immaturity in a way that softens the heart and benefits the character), too many pastors, school administrators, and faculty members pacify the carnal and fail to exhort them to edification and sanctification.
Romans 15:18 – “For I will not dare [presume] to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought [work; accomplish; fashion] by me, to make the Gentiles obedient [submissive; in subjection], by word [speech] and deed [i.e. good works; action; behavior]”
Bearing the weight of the ministry God had called him to, Paul declared in Romans 15:18 his aspiration as a preacher of the Gospel was to not take credit for what God had accomplished in the Gentiles coming to Christ. He determined that his life, his words and deeds, would serve as a testimony of the Gospel he preached.
Is it possible the spiritual anemia that plagues 21st century Christian homes, churches, and institutions can be traced to the shallow, spiritually anemic lives of preachers and leaders?
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith