The God Who Gives Us Grace on the Journey
Paul has some practical words for the church in Rome. He explains that God doesn’t want this evil world to determine the way Jesus-followers think: We are to have our thinking renewed by him. We are to offer our entire selves to God as a sacrifice, and he will make us fully alive. God has given each member of his family different gifts, and we are to appreciate God’s design and work hard. We are to hate what is evil, love what is good and forgive freely.
Paul reminds us that as believers, a new day has dawned. We are citizens of a new kingdom. We are to do deeds of light, not darkness. To do that, we are to put on Jesus and follow his example of living lovingly and graciously.
Paul urges the believers not to judge one other in the areas of food and holy days. “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking” (Romans 14:17). Paul requests grace for all because we will all give an account to God.
Using the Old Testament, Paul reminds his readers that, through Israel, God always intended to bring the world to himself and into a single family. And he urges us to live like one.
The King’s Heart
The new thing God had done in Jesus was quite an adjustment for Jewish believers who had followed God and arranged their lives around the laws he had given Moses. Some Jewish believers were still wrestling with where God’s laws regarding food and special days fit into life under the new covenant. They weren’t heretically proclaiming that following the law was necessary for salvation—the false teachers in Galatia were doing that. Instead, they were hesitant to abandon the rich practices of their faith.
God, through Paul, encourages us to follow the consciences he gives us and have grace with each other. When it comes to gray areas, we are not to judge each other or cause a fellow believer to stumble. We are to do all that we can to live at peace with each other. Under the umbrella of Jesus’ salvation, we need to create space for everyone who believes in him.
Near the end of his letter to the believers in Rome, Paul writes of his desire to visit Rome on his way to Spain (see Romans 15:24). There is no evidence that Paul ever went to Spain. Perhaps Paul’s wish was never fulfilled. But God was working for good, because in Paul’s preparation for his trip to Spain, he wrote the letter to the Romans.