Thursday, 17 October 2013
…do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. Romans 11:18
It’s common for us to actually rejoice over the fall of others, especially when we have enmity towards them for whatever reason. When our political party wins, we often take as much pleasure in the loss of the other party or candidate as we do in the win we participate in. Seeing a rival sports team get smacked is a pleasure to many, even if that team is playing someone other than the team they support. It is a perverse side of humanity to revel in the downfall of others, but it is a common occurrence.
Paul had a concern that the gentiles would “boast against the branches” which were the Jews who had fallen; the branches that were “broken off” in the previous verse. They may feel justified because it was the Jews who had rejected their Lord and participated in His crucifixion. The question “How could they be so stupid?” must have been a common sentiment at the time. “We figured it out and we don’t even have your law or heritage!”
But Paul has already shown that “through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.” How could one boast over such a thing? Rather, they should have remorse and work to evangelize the very people who were now out of favor. Even more, such boasting was something that showed a complete lack of thought concerning the state of those broken off Jews as well as their own personal state. To demonstrate this, Paul reminded them that, “if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”
The root is the spiritual heritage which established both the Jews as well as the gentiles. There is one continuous tree by which salvation is derived. The gentiles have been grafted in to this tree while the Jews were derived directly from it. Understanding this, and the fact that salvation is dependent on the spiritual heritage found in the tree, he will make the point in the coming verse that boasting is not a well thought through approach to the situation. In fact, it is contrary to sound reason.
Life application: In the church, we may feel that we are superior to the Jews who sit in their synagogues and ignore the Lord who came from them and who is the fulfillment of their Scriptures. We aren’t superior. Rather, we recognized what they missed and we received it by grace through faith. We may have access to the truth, but we are no better than they are. Instead of sitting smugly and boasting over the lost, we need to evangelize them in hopes of opening their eyes. In the case of the Jews, we should make a double effort. As the natural branches of the olive tree, their conversion to Christ can have a most important impact on the continuance of the spreading of the gospel.
Glorious Lord God, in my struggle to be a pleasing child to You, I take comfort that I am still beloved because of Jesus – even when I fail to adhere to the expectations You have laid out in Your word for me. I know that nothing can separate us again and that You will carry me through to Your heavenly throne. Forgive me when I trip or stray, and please restore me to a proper walk on the right path when I do. Amen.