Grace to Remind Boldly (Romans 15.14-16)

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I have been writing and emailing The Daily Word for more than five years. During this time, I have expressed my opinion on what the Bible means and how it applies to our lives. But sometimes I ask myself, “Is my opinion really worth sharing with others?” I asked myself that question again when I read Romans 15.14-16, where Paul writes: 

I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with 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.

 In verse 14, Paul describes the Roman Christians as “full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” If they were so full, complete, and competent, why did Paul bother to write them? What could he possibly add to their lives? I’ll get to that in a second, but for now, let me simply say that I sympathize with Paul. I know what it feels like to write to good, knowledgeable, competent Christians. I do it every Monday through Friday. It feels like I’m saying that I’m better than you, smarter than you, more practical than you. It seems like an exercise in ego gratification. 

But Paul doesn’t write to gratify his ego. (And I try not to write to gratify mine either.) Instead, according to verses 15-16, he writes because of the “grace” God gave him and in order to “remind” the Romans of what they already knew but perhaps were forgetting to put into practice. By grace, Paul specifically means the divine commission he received to be an apostle to the Gentiles. And that is what the Roman church needed to be reminded of. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has implications not only for our personal relationship with God, but also for our social life with one another. Christ does not just change one thing. He changes everything. He wants all people, in all areas of their lives, to be “an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” In a similar way to Paul, but on an obviously much smaller scale, I feel that God has given me grace to read and write. And if my reading and writing about the Bible help you make sense of your faith and practice good works, then I’m not afraid to write “quite boldly” now and then. 

Of course, I believe that God has not just given grace to me, but also to you. He has given you unique gifts and abilities that you should use to advance the interests of his kingdom. It’s not an exercise in ego gratification to use those gifts for those purposes. Rather, it’s a false humility that says you have nothing to offer the church or the world. You do. So, whatever you have, offer it boldly. The world needs both you and me to remind it— every day and in every way— of God’s grace.

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