I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. Nevertheless, on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ. Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written,
‘Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.’
When parents evening came around, I, as a child, made sure I booked appointments with the teachers I knew wouldn’t give such glowing reports right in the middle of one’s I knew who would. It was kind of like a constructive criticism sandwich and it meant my parents started and ended the evening hearing wonderful things about me and not focusing on the negative! I’m not sure how well it worked but this the tactic Paul employed in this part Romans.
Having never met them before, Paul wrote of how he heard positive things about them, how they were full of goodness and able to instruct one another. He was, however, also keen to point out that he had to oppose some of their strongest prejudices in order for them to be true to the message of the Gospel. In this section of Romans Paul shows the interest that he had in the welfare of these people he had never met.
When we care for one another, we want to be building each other up. Sometimes, however, we need to be prepared to have difficult conversations. Paul explained that he will only speak of what Christ has accomplished in his own life. We can be all too ready to exploit one another’s struggles when really, we struggle in this area ourselves. Paul brought something to the attention of these people, out of genuine care, because he had dealt with it in himself . There is no sense of judgement here, only a deep concern for the welfare of the people and the sharing of the Gospel.
Gracious God, help us to have the wisdom to know how to approach difficult conversations for the sake of your Gospel. Let us not be judgemental but to approach things in a loving way seeking your guidance at all times. In Jesus name. Amen
The Rev’d Josh Thomas, Minister of Petersfield and Liss URC with the Beacon Church Bordon
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