WISE ABOUT WHAT’S GOOD
Shepherd God, where would I be without your presence and promises? I praise you and look for a word from you today.
Read Romans 16:17–27
17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.
20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
21 Timothy, my co-worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my fellow Jews.
22 I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.
23 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings.
Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.  [a]
25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from[b] faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhere has appearance mattered more than substance in your Christian life?
Paul ends with words of praise (vs 25–27), celebrating the gospel proclaimed throughout Romans: namely, that the Gentiles have been incorporated into God’s people, as was God’s intention from the first promises to Abraham (Romans 4:16–18). But before he launches into praise, Paul cautions those in Rome to be wary of those who cause divisions and throw up obstacles (v 17).
We may be surprised: Paul’s already indicated there’s liberty for practices that aren’t required if they’re sincerely intended to honor the Lord (Romans 14:5,6). But there the differences were between people who all accepted Jesus as their Messiah, and the centrality of the cross – they were just trying to work through their differences as to what that meant in practice. Here the differences are about what is contrary to the gospel.
Paul simply states that they have the standard of what constitutes gospel truth: measure everything by that and turn away from everything else, trusting that God will help them defeat the enemy (v 20). It’s not clear whether Paul has certain teachers in mind, but what’s clear is that he suspects their motivation: to gain power or influence over the churches in Rome (v 18). Paul wants them to turn such teachers away, judging them by their substance rather than their appearance (v 18b).
Reflect on those who are disruptive in church life. Ask God to give you discernment about their motivation, and pray for them.
Lord God, I want to be salt and light in my world. Help me to act so as to reflect your good purposes for the world around me.
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