Wise and Innocent
My Maker and my God, beneath Your eye and within Your patience, the story of my years is told. I bow before You.
Read Romans 16:17-27
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Now go to your reading, and according to the order of Paul’s writing, so you must live” (William Tyndale, 1494-1536). This is what Paul would want from us.
Jesus tells his disciples to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16, NRSV). Paul has a similar wish for the Roman congregation as he warns them about those people who might damage the congregation. There is the twin danger of either being so naïve that we never notice potential danger or so suspicious that we never trust anyone. Either position can destroy a Christian church. Welcome and acceptance of others should not mean that false teaching is accepted. There is a need to distinguish between people who are “weak” and should be cared for and those who come in with deviant teaching to disrupt the congregation.
Paul sees these people as instruments of Satan who use all the means they can to deceive. There is a confidence that Satan will not succeed in disrupting the congregation. The God of peace is too strong for him. Paul wants the Roman Christians not only to refute error but also to live obedient lives, as they are reputed to be doing. Doctrinal orthodoxy that neglects holy living does not lead to congregations that demonstrate the Gospel. Wrong living is as much a denial of the Gospel as wrong thinking. Our beliefs and our actions should both proclaim salvation in Jesus.
Before we leave the letter we are introduced to those who are with Paul in Corinth as he writes, and we note again the diverse nature of first-century Christianity. However, it is not with humans that Paul leaves us but with a wonderful committing of his readers to God, who in his wisdom has revealed the hidden plan of salvation in Jesus so that people from all over the world might believe in him. This is the God who saves us, who is to be proclaimed to the nations, and whose glory is to be celebrated.
Write your own prayer based on Paul’s closing prayer in vs. 25-27. Focus on each phrase and pray each phrase in your own words. Consider God’s greatness and thank him.
Lord, thank You for Paul: chosen and equipped by You to establish the church and proclaim the Gospel. Use me and my gifts as I seek to be faithful and obedient.
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