“Patience is a virtue.” Whoever conceived this quote must have had the last section of Romans on their mind. Greetings, and welcome to the 5th and final piece of the study of the Book of Romans. While these last three chapters – 14, 15 & 16 – touch on a couple of things, the main theme educates us on how to interact with each other as we present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
Chapter 14 grabs our attention immediately, strongly advising us to be patient with Christians that we don’t agree with. What makes this declaration interesting is that the Apostle Paul, the author of Romans, acknowledges very honestly that despite having one Word of God, there will be several perspectives on the Word. Paul is not necessarily saying that it’s okay to have multiple opinions. I believe that he is simply making the point that we are all at different stages in our walk with God. Thus, being at different levels of understanding. The closer our relationship with Him, the more we understand. We must be patient with each other. Frankly, impatience shows a lack of humility. No matter how much we know, there’s always more to learn. We cannot presume to be know-it-alls. The moment we stop learning is the moment we stop growing and maturing. Until we look EXACTLY like Jesus, there’s always room for improvement. While it may be frustrating when others have misconceptions of what the Word is saying, remember that these people are seeking God. After all, there was a time when we were at the beginning of our journey and did not know as much as we know now. Of course, there are those who are just talking heads. The love the sound of their own voice and want the attention to be on them rather than Christ. They have no desire to spread or live the true Gospel. We need wisdom to discern the difference between these people and those who actually want to live for God.
One of the best things we can do as the Christian family, or the Church, is to stand as one unit. I spoke about this in the previous post. When we are divided, our witness is weak to the world. If the witness is weak, no one will be saved. Our purpose as the Church is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:15, Luke 14:23). If there is any discord, we should work things out amongst ourselves. Broadcasting our dismay publicly, be it on social media or through other outlets, is damaging. Although some may believe that doing this will allow the Church to harbor secrets, if the members are legitimate, we don’t have to worry about hiding in shame. Our counsel should only come from the Word. The Word is our guide (Psa. 119:105). Utilizing the Word rather than multiple opinions keeps us honest and focused. The way we live should ALWAYS be consistent with the Word.
Let us also remember not to be “petty.” If it offends you that some Christians allow their children to go trick-or-treating on Halloween or that others eat pork, I should remind you that offense is a choice and a dangerous decision that Christians should never entertain no matter what the circumstance (Luke 17:1-4). It’s also important to keep in mind that we should not obsess over things that don’t matter. As long as a person honors God in the way they live, who cares about their love of bacon or whether the kids get free candy on October 31st?
For those of you who have a strong relationship with the Holy Spirit, use it to help others in their time of need. We should never turn our noses up at a person just because their “minor” issues are unconquered. You may no longer struggle with the things they struggle with, but always bare in mind the patience Jesus shows towards you daily. Your strength in Him is for service, not status. We should not walk around with our chests pumped up (Rom. 12:3). While it can be tough, we have to strive to handle people the way God handles us. Push all emotion and bias to the side. God loves each and every one of us tremendously and we absolutely must remember that. We are on this earth to carry out His agenda, not our own. Help people as often as you can with the love of God at the front of your mind. Stand with fellow Christians knowing that together, we are stronger and much more effective.
In closing, Paul gives another reminder to beware of false prophets and smooth talkers. Do not be gullible to their bogus claims that they are sent by God. These people only want to gain access into your life, control you and/ or take from you. The best defense against these people is to know the Word yourself. If there is anything that I harp on constantly, it is knowing the Word for yourself. If you are only relying on your pastor’s Sunday message to carry you through this journey, you are a perfect candidate for getting taken advantage of. It’s no different from being in school. No matter how many trick questions and curve balls there are on an exam, if you truly know the material, you cannot be fooled. Study every person who comes to you with the Word. You don’t have to be weird about it but be sure to line their words and actions up against the Bible. If there are red flags, walk away. God will never leave us high and dry (Heb. 13:5), so rely heavily on His guidance (John 14:26). Even when you cannot prove wrong doing, sometimes, things just feel “off.” Do not ignore the pulling in your spirit. Be obedient and walk away.
At the end of the Book of Romans, Paul gives thanks and encouragement to all those who help to spread the gospel. The Apostle Paul was an incredible person in the Bible and a fearless soldier of Christ. He is responsible for more than two-thirds of the books in the New Testament. Because of His fearless drive and focus on Christ, he is considered by many to be the greatest champion of the Word in the New Testament … next to Jesus, of course. Let us all be warriors and advocates of the Word in every aspect of our lives, for the rest of our lives. I hope this series of the Book of Romans has been a blessing to you all. So, I leave you with the final three scriptures in Romans: Now to Him who is able to establish you by the gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God; so, that all nations might believe and obey Him. To the only wise God be gloried forever through Jesus Christ. Amen!
Kirby N. McKinney