Building Each Other Up - Romans 15
3. Bear each-others burdens
3.1. 15 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”
3.1.1.Our own pleasure is the wrong focus. It is the pleasure of the other person and ultimately of the Lord that we need to be focused on.
3.1.2.The idea of self-sacrifice has been replaced by the “me” generation and the idea of self-actualization. Living a life of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others has fallen by the wayside.
3.1.3.Play first Video
3.1.4.We need look no further than the state of marriage to see this. I really don’t like going to weddings anymore. At weddings there are a lot of people lying to each other. Even the bride and groom today are mostly lying to each other. Vows are exchanged which neither intends to keep. Everyone is lying about the “beauty” of the thing while for most of the attendees the idea of laying down one’s life for their spouse is totally absent from the minds of most of the participants. Most of the time, the words are spoken, but we no longer believe that it’s our obligation before God to do this.
3.1.5.Paul wants us to focus on pleasing our neighbor, not on pleasing ourselves. Putting our own needs second and bearing any possible insult is the Jesus way.
3.1.6.I can already hear some of you saying: “but didn’t Jesus tell us ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Mark 12:31? Of course he did, but this doesn’t mean you are supposed to put yourself first. What it means is to recognize the fact that we all do love ourselves and put ourselves first without needing any encouragement to do so. This is what we naturally do. What Jesus is telling us is that if we love God with all of our heart mind and soul will put the needs of others in the same place as we put our own needs. The key to filling our cup is to fill the cup of others and allow God to fill ours.
4. Scripture is for our learning
4.1. 4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
4.1.1.For our learning: The scriptures were given for our learning to give us hope. It’s also to give us context for our lives. In times of difficulty, it’s easy to lose perspective and see only the challenges in front of us. The scriptures give us a 10,000-foot view so that we can put the individual circumstances of our lives in context. It’s through seeing the bigger picture that we can be comforted and have hope that allows us to bear whatever situation life presents to us.
4.1.2.For example, when there is a death in the family as I’ve recently experienced we can comfort ourselves with the knowledge of eternity. When someone devalues us or mistreats or rejects us we can fall back the fact that the God of the universe says we have high-value and we are enough. When events and circumstances are confusing to us we can remember that they are not confusing to God and that he doesn’t take any days off or sleep as though he is missing what is happening in our life.
5. One mind and one mouth
5.1. 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
5.1.1.As I said last week in the episode on Romans 14, denominationalism and factions in the church are the opposite of this and are not what Jesus intended for his church. Jesus didn’t come to start a corporation or several corporations, Jesus came to start a family.
5.1.2.Paul’s exhortation here that we speak with one voice is exactly what we don’t do and is exactly what condemns us to the world.
5.1.3.Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35. The fact that we don’t do this is part of the reason the unbelieving world is in seeing the fact of Jesus.
6. Receive one another
6.1. 7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received [d]us, to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: “For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name.” 10 And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!” 11 And again: “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!” 12 And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”
6.1.1. Here we have, one more time, an exhortation from Paul to the Jews and Gentiles in Rome to act and behave and love each other as one body. He’s reiterating to the Jews in Rome that the Gentiles being brought into the family of God was already prophesied with two references from Psalms and one each from Deuteronomy and Isaiah.
7. Joy and Peace
7.1. 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
7.1.1. Joy and peace should flow from our relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.
7.1.2.I know sometimes being joyful is difficult. We are supposed to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” James 1:2. This is where the 10,000 foot view becomes absolutely essential. Understanding that this life is short, our destination is perfect and God’s will is perfect allows us the possibility of being joyful in difficult circumstances. Notice I didn’t say that it would be easy, but I do believe that it is possible.
7.1.3.Play Persecution Video
8. Able to admonish
8.1. 14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
8.1.1.Now the admonishment is often thought of as a correction, but it can also be an encouragement. The idea here is that if we have taken her training from Scripture and we are maintaining the 10,000 foot view, we can both correct and encourage each other when one of us has a loss of perspective. I am convinced that if we were to have a constant sense of the real presence of God we would never be discouraged. We would never be distracted. We would never be confused. It is in the community of believers that we should collectively be able to maintain this perspective and offer it to one another as needed.
9. But just in case
9.1. 15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering [g]of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
9.1.1.Paul is explaining his forthrightness with them in his reasons for reminding them of things that seem somewhat elementary.
10. Speaking from experience
10.1. 17 Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient— 19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20 And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation, 21 but as it is written:
“To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand.”
10.1.1. Paul says basically two things here:
10.1.1.1. The first thing he is telling them is what he has already experienced and seen through his own eyes. He doesn’t need the testimony of others to believe in God and to be a minister of the gospel. He has his own experience of God to draw on. In your own ministry of the gospel (and if you are a Christian you are a minister) you will gain strength from the testimony of others. Paul gained strength from the testimony of the apostles in Jerusalem, but it was his own experience with God that drove him forward. His own real experience of God that was the difference maker. I suggest to you that it will be your own experience of God that will be the difference maker in your testimony to others. It’s one thing to fill your head with a bunch of knowledge about God, it’s another thing to fill your life with the experience of God. If you’re not experiencing God in your life and the presence of the Holy Spirit, I want to encourage you to just be honest with God and ask him for this. It’s totally okay to tell God “I don’t feel your presence, I don’t sense the Holy Spirit, please help me God”.
10.1.1.2. The second thing he is telling them is that he has focused his efforts on those who have not heard the gospel. Far too many churches are focused on attracting the already saved and those who already attend church from another congregation to their own instead of being focused on sharing the gospel with the unbelieving world that is dying all around them.
11. Delayed because of the opportunity where he was
11.1. 22 For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. 23 But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you, 24 whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while.
11.1.1. Paul has been held up in coming to Rome because of the ministry opportunities and needs where he was. Paul had fallen into the trap that much of the modern church has fallen into. The trap is the idea that “missions” is something that’s “out there somewhere” rather than right here where we are. And don’t misunderstand, I believe in foreign missions and believe there is value in them. That said, I also believe that far too many churches are missing the mission opportunity in their own communities. That far too many believers are missing the mission field in their own workplace. If you are a parent of young children, do you see the sideline at the soccer game as a mission opportunity? Do you see going to work as a mission opportunity?
12. Duty to minister to physical needs
12.1. 25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. 27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. 28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain. 29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing [j]of the gospel of Christ.
12.1.1. The believers in Greece were “pleased” to make a contribution for the poor. They had received real value of a spiritual nature and were able and eager to offer real value of material nature. Paul was transiting this gift to Jerusalem.
12.1.2. He uses the word “duty”. He’s indicating our responsibility to one another. We are not to ignore the needs of our brothers and sisters in the faith. 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:15-17
13. Request for Prayer
13.1. Paul Wraps up the chapter with a request for Prayer
13.2. 30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
14. End – Housekeeping