Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
I have never been comfortable with boasting, or being boastful. It sits wrong with me, I suspect that like many of you, I was raised to believe that showing off and boasting were not characteristics that were very becoming of a “nice person” (read good, polite, decent member of society). But I suspect that there have been moments in my life where I have boasted to show off how smart I was, or how grown-up I was (I suspect we all have stories of our teens where we tried to show off and it backfired and simply demonstrated how much growing up we still had to do). Unfortunately, boasting however uncomfortable we may be with it, is also part of human nature, and some people never grow out of boasting, some of our politicians and celebrities demonstrate that regularly.
The least we can do is turn something that often is negative into something positive, this is what Paul is encouraging the church in Rome and us today to do. By boasting of the good that God has done for us, hopefully we can inspire, encourage and support people to move towards God and grow in faith through Jesus and with the help of the Holy Spirit. Paul states that we should boast in our suffering, this doesn’t mean celebrate the bad stuff, but remember that Jesus is with us throughout and understands our suffering because he too has suffered and been humiliated. This passage is one long reminder that everything we experience that may be seen as bad, difficult or awful can be turned to tell of how God is ever-present and with us in those experiences, and understanding them, not simply watching like an emotionless observer. God is relational and that is the thing we should be boasting about most of all because through Jesus that relationship has been repaired.
Reconciling God, help us to not dwell on all that is “wrong” with our lives, as compared to many we are privileged, yet help us to boast of your love and compassion everywhere, in all places and at all times so that everyone can hear of the personal relationship you desire with each of us. Help us to turn our negative emotions and behaviours into ones that better reflect who you are to the world. Amen.
Kirsty-Ann Mabbott, Church Related Community Worker, Coventry