Daily Devotional

November 17, 2019

Daybreak: Romans 15:1-33

“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.” (Romans 15:1-2)

William Borden put today’s focus verses into practice. Born in 1887 to a wealthy family, he enjoyed the privileges that money can bring, but he made choices that surprised many people. When he was seven years old, his mother took him to the Moody Church in Chicago, and there he committed his life to God. At sixteen, after he graduated from high school, his parents sent him on an around-the-world trip. His travels impressed upon him a burden for souls. A friend indicated that to be a missionary would be “throwing himself away,” but Borden wrote in the back of his Bible, “No reserves.”

Following his trip, Borden entered Yale University. One of his classmates wrote: “He came to college far ahead, spiritually, of any of us. He had already given his heart in full surrender to Christ and had really done it. We who were his classmates learned to lean on him and find in him a strength that was solid as a rock.”1 While he was a freshman, Borden and a friend began praying together in the morning. Before long they were joined by another student, and then another. At the end of that year, 150 students met weekly for Bible study and prayer. By Borden’s senior year, one thousand students were in those groups. He also established the Yale Hope Mission in an effort to help those bound by alcohol and other addictions.

When Borden graduated from Yale, he was offered high-paying jobs, but declined. He wrote in his Bible, “No retreats.” He had a particular burden for the Muslim people in China. With the goal of going there as a missionary, he went to Egypt to learn Arabic. In Egypt, however, he contracted spinal meningitis and died within a month. He was twenty-five years old. Before he died, he wrote in his Bible, “No regrets.”

William Borden had chosen not to please himself, but to “please his neighbor for his good to edification.” He left a legacy of challenge and encouragement, and was a testimony of the joy found in full surrender and service to God.

We also will make choices about whether or not to please ourselves. Our options will not be the same as William Borden’s, but there will be times when we can take the way of self-denial. Opportunities to assist, to encourage, or to help bear the load of the weak will come. The situations may seem small or unimportant, but will we do what we can?

Background

In chapter 15, Paul continued his theme of how those who are strong are to bear with the infirmities of the weak. The first part of this chapter contains the Apostle’s closing statement concerning the Christian’s exercise of liberty within the Body of Christ. Two major topics dominate this portion of text: pleasing others instead of oneself (verses 1-3), and praising God in unity and harmony (verses 4-13). These verses represent Paul’s formal conclusion to his entire epistle to the Romans. Beginning with verse 14, he began to draw the epistle to a close with final remarks concerning his apostleship and plans to see the Roman believers.

In verses 1-3, Paul focused on the importance of pleasing others. He pointed to three ways this was to be done: by putting first the good of others, by working toward the edification of others, and by pleasing others as Christ himself had done. Throughout chapter 14, Paul had focused on the Christian’s relationship to fellow believers, frequently using the term “brother.” However, in Romans 15:2, the Apostle laid aside this designation and began to employ the term “neighbor,” thus broadening the application of his teaching on love and liberty. He went on to remind the Roman believers of the value of the Old Testament Scriptures, and offered up a prayer for their unity so that with one mind and one mouth they could glorify God (verses 4-6).

In verses 7-12, Paul made an appeal for Jews and Gentiles to accept each other. Utilizing a series of quotations from the Old Testament, the Apostle reinforced his assertion that both Jews and Gentiles were part of the family of God, and that the inclusion of the Gentiles was predicted by divine inspiration. (See Psalm 18:49 in connection with verse 9; Deuteronomy 32:43 in connection with verse 10; Psalm 117:1 in connection with verse 11; and Isaiah 11:10 in connection with verse 12). Paul then offered a brief benediction, praying that God would fill the Roman Christians with joy and peace in believing, so that they would abound in hope with the help of the Holy Spirit (verse 13). He clearly was assured that as those of opposing perspectives grew spiritually, the differences within the congregation would dwindle.

Verse 14 marks the transition to Paul’s conclusion to his epistle in which he gave a series of personal greetings and words of encouragement. Recognizing the Romans’ own qualifications in the faith, he still felt his credentials as a “minister” to the Gentiles made it appropriate to write to them as he did. Expressing his desire not to preach where Christ had already been preached, the Apostle related his intention to stop over in Rome on his way to Spain. However, first he planned to take a contribution from the saints in Macedonia and Achaia to the poor saints in Jerusalem. Realizing that such a trip would entail danger, he asked to be remembered in their prayers, and concluded with a brief but characteristic benediction invoking the peace of God toward them all.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah's Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)

III.    The results of salvation
    F.    Live holy by strengthening others (15:1-6)
    G.    Live holy in fellowship (15:7-13)
IV.    Conclusion
    A.    Paul’s purpose for the letter (15:14-21)
    B.    Travel plans (15:22-33)

A Closer Look

  1. In verse 4, what did the Apostle Paul say brings hope?

  2. How is it possible to have the unity described in verses 5-6?

  3. What are some ways we might “bear the infirmities of the weak”?

Conclusion

We want to be alert for opportunities to help and edify others. God will be with us to give wisdom and guidance in this as we seek to follow Him.

 

1 Southern Nazarene University, No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets, Southern Nazarene University, https://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/regret.htm, accessed April 22, 2019.

Reference Materials