Romans 14 - 16
If you are reading this, I hope you are God’s servant. He calls us sons (yes, women too, we’re all sons, just like we’re all the bride of Christ), but we can call ourselves servants. I like to think of myself as His love slave. But as such—slave, servant, child—who can possibly judge us? Only God! Recently, I heard some gossip about a fellow missionary. People are saying the Lord told her to go home, but she won’t listen. Where do people get such information? One thing is for certain: they didn’t get that from God! He does not gossip about His children. The only key we need to someone else’s life is this: is Jesus their Lord? If not, get them saved. If yes, accept them at face value. We don’t need to judge them. They belong to God.
A friend of mine likes to give balloons to her audience. She has them blow one up and consider their breath to carry all the criticisms they have made of other people, all the derogatory remarks, in fact, every negative word to have come out of their lips. Then she has them stick a pin in the balloon to explode it and let the words fall to the ground, void. The second balloon is to carry redemptive words to be spoken where the destructive words were said. When the balloon is full, she has them release it to spin around in the air, spilling out all the positive words to fill the space.
It really is almost as easy as that. It takes a decision. No more will we be the bearer of words that wound. Then it takes prayer. Prayer is our word for conversation with God. Therefore, we tell Him of our determination and ask for His help. Will He please cause our unworthy words to fall to the ground without accomplishing their purpose? It’s the follow-through that is so difficult! When I first determined I would speak no words of calumny, I became strangely quiet. It was torturous to change! But change we must. Every word we speak should be a blessing!
Change verse 11 to read My knee bows to the Lord! My tongue confesses the Lord. Because verse 12awaits us!
Verse 17 needs to be a verse we always remember: The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. This is how we are to live: in the Kingdom, in righteousness, in peace, in joy—all of it—in the Holy Spirit. If we serve Christ in the use of our tongue, we are then in His acceptable will. Step One of Kingdom living is building one another up. I’m not talking about flattery for gain. I’m talking about genuine building. Ask the Lord to supply you with the right words!
Chapter 14 ends with a striking statement: Whatever is not from faith is sin. Faith that what we do, faith that what we say, faith that what we think is within the boundary of God’s acceptable will. God will help us change, but He won’t do the work for us.
Then Paul takes us a step higher. We go from edification to glorification. When we gather together, we should strive to have one mind and one mouth, that is to be in agreement both with our minds and with our tongues, to bring glory to God. After that comes prayer in unity: verse 13 and 16:20. Pray for one another in this fashion. Insert individual names in the prayer.
Verse 15:23 brings an interesting understanding. Why would Paul no longer have a place in the parts where he is currently staying? Because he had finished his assignment there. He had built the saints to the point the Lord wanted them to be, and it was time to move on. I have stayed too long in one place and had everything I worked for be demolished. Right now He is telling me to move on after I have spent a season of prayer in a certain town. He said my job is over, and He will bring someone else in for the next stage. If I stay, I’ll hinder the work that is to come. Churches always want us to stay put, but God likes to move His people around because the Body of Christ is what edifies each member. In the “olden” days, churches used to change pastors every two to four years. That was healthy. Now we let them stay as long as everyone wants, and the work slowly dies.
When Paul asks for prayer, he is quite specific about what he wants. That’s how we must be with the Holy Spirit. We’re all familiar with the story of the oriental pastor who asked the Lord for a bicycle. When it didn’t come and didn’t come, he asked the Lord why, and the Lord answered, “You didn’t tell me what kind of bicycle you want.” The pastor rectified that situation, and the next day, the exact bicycle came to his door. As you can see, God is very specific with us about the behavior He wants. He expects us to be specific with Him.
Look at His instructions in chapter 16. If only the Body of Christ would give this much specific attention to each other, what a wonderful world it would be!
Here are the Scriptures to:
Week One: 14:1–15
Week Two: 14:16–15:8
Week Three: 15:9–24
Week Four: 15:25–33; 16:17–20; 25–27