In Romans, Paul is describing the sorrow he feels that the Jews he has been trying to teach have not accepted the good news of Jesus Christ. Even though he recognizes it is in God’s plan, he is mourning their stubbornness and their hardened hearts.
It is important to God why we follow Him…what motivates us. He wants us to pursue Him because our faith compels us to do so, not as a result of our obligation to the law.
Paul begins to bring his message around again to the idea that Christ came for all people. Paul continues to hope that the Israelites will listen and allow their hearts to be opened to God’s message of love and mercy. (Romans 11:11-16)
I believe Paul is saying to the early believers who are not of Jewish descent that they are the branches which come from the foundation of the Israelites. If the root is holy, then so are the branches. As a result they need to continue to live and work together in the hope that the Jews’ eyes and hearts will be opened to a new understanding of God and Jesus Christ as Savior. Paul points to this idea more clearly by instructing them in Romans 12:9-17…
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
As we do our best to live at peace with everyone, Paul gets into more controversial subjects next…it could be controversial yet today too. In Chapter 13, Paul includes the authorities which govern the members of the early church in his statements about how to treat one another if we are followers of Christ.
Romans 13:6 & 7
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
I am guilty of not appreciating those who are in authority over me. I speak out against the actions, decisions and judgements those in civil service make sometimes. There are many times that I don’t agree and wish the government didn’t appear so corrupt and hypocritical, but rather than allowing my anger to rise and my resentment to grow, I should be praying for those in power. I should be blessing them…tough pill to swallow Paul, tough pill to swallow…sometimes it is bitter too. Nevertheless, if I am to be obedient to God’s call on my life, this is one area I can improve…I think Paul was speaking the early believers about this subject because he knew they could do better too.
The next part is a little easier to accept, though not necessarily easier to accomplish:
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Why do we do this? Why do we live this way? Because the day is near…
Romans 13:11& 12
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already comefor you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light
Let us also join that high calling, that of putting aside the deeds of darkness and putting on the armor of light…let us love one another in spirit and in truth, in action as well as in word…the day is near
Come, Lord Jesus, Come…