Head and Heart
Lord, You are the source of all things good. Help me to focus on what I have rather than what I may lack.
Read Romans 1:8-17
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“In Jesus Christ incarnate, crucified, risen, regnant, and now present with us through the Holy Spirit, God has bridged the awful gulf between divine holiness and human sin” (A. M. Hunter). Hallelujah! What a Savior!
The writer of this challenging theological letter was no ivory tower academic, no Pharisee refining abstract theological formulations to impose on others. He was a very human fellow Christian with a pastor’s heart. He prayed faithfully for other Christians, longed to see them, and dreamed of the joy of sharing spiritual gifts with them. His greatest desire was to see others come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He knew the indescribable joy of God working through him, the frustration of being pulled in two directions at the same time (see 15:17-22), and the ache of separation from people he loved. At the time of this letter he had never been to Rome, but had met many Roman Christians, as the long list of greetings in ch. 16 testifies. He had suffered in all sorts of ways as he lived out his calling (see 2 Cor. 11:23-29) but had gained the priceless treasure of Christian friendship. On the death of the emperor Claudius, the Jews had been allowed to return to Rome, and now that they were working there with Gentile fellow Christians, Paul ached to be a part of it. Paul could write of love the way he does in 1 Corinthians 13 because he lived it. Head and heart belong together.
The last two verses of today’s reading introduce the main theme of Romans: Paul’s confidence in the gospel, which brings salvation first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Verse 17 introduces two key words, righteousness and faith, which will be elaborated on in what follows. The God-inspired ambiguities of the quotation from Habakkuk 2:4, together with the multiple meanings of righteous and faith, will become clearer as Paul continues.
Paul not only encourages, but is also encouraged by the faith of the Romans. How can you encourage those who encourage you? Who will you encourage today?
Loving Lord, I think of all those who have made Your love real to me. I thank You for them and pray Your blessings on them.