Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Belong to Each Other

In this message, I will be continuing my examination of Paul’s letter to the Romans and specifically looking at chapter twelve of this great epistle. According to biblical scholars and historians, Paul, about ten years before he had written this letter, spent his time preaching the Good News and establishing churches in the Roman provinces of Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia. Paul’s desire was to go to Spain to preach the Gospel. In doing so, it would give him the opportunity to visit Rome.

In chapter fifteen of Romans, Paul writes, “But now I have finished my work in these regions, and after all these long years of waiting, I am eager to visit you. I am planning to go to Spain, and when I do, I will stop off in Rome. And after I have enjoyed your fellowship for a little while, you can provide for my journey.

Paul, in short, writes this epistle not only to let them know about his desire to visit and enjoy their fellowship but also to prepare them spiritually and address a few things that have occurred inside the church there in Rome. Paul reminds them of the salvation they had received and that they are to be transformed and not be conformed to the ways of this world.

It is at this point that I will be spending my time in discussing Paul’s words in chapter twelve of his letter specifically examining verses three through five.

Paul, starting with verse three of chapter twelve, writes, “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

The first part that struck me in this passage was the warning that Paul gave to them. He warned them not to think of themselves as better than they really were. All too many times, some Christians will use their salvation as a weapon to lord over the heads of others. As Christians, we must realize and always remember that we, too, were sinners and fell short in the eyes of the Lord. Before we accepted Christ Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we wandered blindly in a sinful world and remained disobedient to God.

Paul, in chapter six of this epistle, writes, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

You notice that Paul, in this very simple sentence, tells us that we earned only death due to our sins. That was the wage for our wickedness. But, we received eternal life as a free gift from God through Jesus’ sacrifice made on the cross. We could not buy it or earn it. Salvation is a gift that can only be received from God freely. Because it is a free gift, we should not feel that we are above others or better than they are. All may freely receive this gift. It was not given just to the Jews or Gentiles. It was given to all. Anyone hearing the Good News may accept this gift.

In chapter eighteen of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us a story about two men who went to the temple, one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. Back then, tax collectors were viewed as horrible individuals who took advantage of people at every turn in order to make money on what they owed in taxes. Some of them were unscrupulous and took the opportunity to demand more money than what was required to pay their taxes. People hated them with a passion.

Jesus, in this story, tells us, “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

We are to be humble in our faith and not use it to feel that we are superior to others. We should always remember that we were once sinners and that we all have been commanded by Jesus to share the Good News with all who wish to listen. By remembering this, we allow God’s glory to shine through us and to show the world the love that He has for it.

Paul then reminds those in Rome to be honest in evaluating themselves. We should always be looking at ourselves first when it comes to our faith and determine if we are living up to our fullest potential as defined by God’s will. It is only by doing so that we are able to address any issues that may be there in our lives. If we are lacking in an area, we should be seeking God’s help and asking for wisdom to address those areas. We should not simply gloss over those areas while shaking a finger at those that are lacking.

Jesus tells us in chapter seven of the Gospel of Matthew, “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

Once again, we should not consider ourselves better than others and should always be looking to reach our full potential in God’s kingdom. We should be looking at ourselves daily and be in prayer asking for God’s help in rooting out the weakness in our spiritual life and ask Him for help in addressing that weakness.
In the last part of this passage, Paul reminds the Romans as well as us that we are all different and specialized parts of one body, the body of Christ. We, like the cells and organs of our own bodies, serve a specific and distinct function in the body of Christ.

Each one of us not only serve God but we also serve those around us. We serve by first realizing that we must do so with humility and by not thinking that we are better than others. Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as well as our enemies. In short, we are to love all and to help when we are given the opportunity to do so.

Paul reminds us in the final words of that passage that we belong to each other. We are not islands. We are all connected to one another. We should always remember the words of that wonderful song, “The Family of God” written by Bill & Gloria Gaither, “I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God.” Each one of us is part of that glorious family and have received His grace and the free gift of salvation through His son, Jesus.

As we start a new week, I encourage us all to evaluate ourselves and find those areas that need some work. Ask God for help in improving your life and to give you the wisdom to take the steps necessary to improve your spiritual life. When you keep in mind Paul’s words, remain humble and evaluate yourself honestly, you can strengthen your spiritual life and stand firm in His grace.    

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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