Read Romans 15
1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed 9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.”
10 Again, it says,
“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.”
12 And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul the Minister to the Gentiles
14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. 15 Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. 21 Rather, as it is written:
“Those who were not told about him will see,
and those who have not heard will understand.”
22 This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.
Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome
23 But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. 28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.
30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
In Romans 15, Paul urges Christians to use their God-given strengths. He describes the tasks, the goal, and the motivations we should have as we serve others. In verse 1, Paul describes our task: to use our God-given gifts to build up those around us. It is easy to deploy our skills to benefit an organization, a friend, or other “strong” people. However, we have a duty to “use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace…” (1 Peter 4:9), and we must use our gifts to help the weak. Just as God actively seeks after the weak and lost, we ought to seek ways to use our gifts to build up and love the weak in our community, city, and world.
Secondly, this chapter describes the end goal of service: “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” The end goal is to benefit the people we serve. Too often we jump into service opportunities, thinking little about how our actions or our role may harm or benefit people. The method we use to serve people can either uplift them, or it can deeply discourage them. When approaching service, we should intentionally and pragmatically consider how to fulfill the goal of building up the vulnerable.
Finally, Paul writes that our motivations should “not please ourselves…for Christ did not please himself…” This passage relates passages like Philippians 2:3-4 and Colossians 3:23. Rather than serving to make us feel good about ourselves or improve our status, we serve with our strengths in true humility. C.S. Lewis describes this saying, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” It is our natural tendency to think about ourselves, our needs, and our desires, but to serve effectively we must shift our attention. As we consider the weak and focus on others more than we focus on ourselves, we will begin to see true transformations in our lives.
Our endeavor to use our gifts and strengths in order to serve those around us—for their good and without a thought to ourselves—can seem daunting. But Paul’s prayer in verses 5-6 should encourage us to move forward. When we surrender our worries to God and move to further God’s Kingdom around us, God will be glorified.
- What are your spiritual gifts?
- How are you using your strengths to serve? If you aren’t, what are some ways you can?
- How can you get in the habit of surrendering your service to God?
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