Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.
You may listen to today’s devotional blog here.
Yesterday, Paul encouraged us in our relationships with others. Today’s Word highlights our relationship with authorities and governments, where we are to invest with the mind of Christ.
Obey the rulers who have authority over you. Only God can give authority to anyone, and he puts these rulers in their places of power. (v1, CEV).
This can be tricky when the rulers over us put their own personal agenda ahead of God’s agenda for our communities. Yet, there are countless examples of poor leaders in the Bible. Kings who did evil fill the pages of Old Testament history. And yet God still delivered His people. God still gave His one and only Son at just the right time. I believe we can obey even evil rulers, or maybe even those whose politics differ from ours, and yet work to bring about God’s perfect will at the same time. Martin Luther King, Jr. may have said it best and most succinctly: “The time is always right to do what is right.” I often instructed my own kids when they were teenagers with similar words of wisdom, “If you don’t know which choice to make, make the right one.”
Doing what is right is key, especially when it is done in love. Paul says: Let love be your only debt! If you love others, you have done all that the Law demands. (v8, MSG). And then the Apostle adds: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love. (v10, MSG).
Paul, the former Pharisee, the scholarly Jew, has the Shema in mind here, doesn’t he? Every day he likely rolled off of his sleeping mat, looked heavenward first thing in the morning and said this prayer: “O Israel, listen: Jehovah is our God, Jehovah alone. You must love him with all your heart, soul, and might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, CJB). But love your neighbor as yourself. (Leviticus 19:9, NIV). Paul may have even heard the disciples quoting the story of Jesus being asked about the greatest commandment. The Messiah first quotes directly from Deuteronomy, then from Leviticus. (see Matthew 22:35-40 and Mark 12:28-34). For Moses and Jesus both, it’s all about love. As it is for Paul. As it is for you and me.
You can’t go wrong when you love others.
Next, there is a warning and an encouraging word or two:
Night’s darkness is dissolving away as a new day of destiny dawns. So we must once and for all strip away what is done in the shadows of darkness, removing it like filthy clothes. And once and for all we clothe ourselves with the radiance of light as our weapon. We must live honorably, surrounded by the light of this new day, not in the darkness of drunkenness and debauchery, not in promiscuity and sensuality, not being argumentative or jealous of others. Instead be fully clothed with the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, and don’t waste even a moment’s thought on your former identity to awaken its selfish desires. (v12-14, TPT).
Another translation says it this way: Let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to you as the clothes you wear. Then you won’t try to satisfy your selfish desires. (v 14, CEV).
Love others well today! Make the right choices. And know that Jesus is always with you!
© 2020. Rich Ronald.