Wednesday, 8 January 2014
Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,… Romans 15:5
Verses 5 and 6 are as much a spontaneous prayer of petition as they are a request for harmony directed to those in Rome. The substance of everything he has penned since the beginning of the previous chapter has dealt with agreement between believers resulting from unity over “disputable matters.” Only through such unity will there be a likeminded attitude. And so, in order to promote this after his detailed discourse, he invokes God to be the One to bestow this divine favor.
“Now” – Based on these topics of discussion and in hopes of fellowship within the covenant community.
“May the God of patience and comfort” – God’s patience is seen throughout the Bible. He is longsuffering with those who are going astray as he calls them back to Himself. A beautiful example of this is His sending of the prophets to Israel for even hundreds of years, asking them to be of one mind with Him. Instead of utterly destroying them as they turned away, he would send enemies to afflict His people in hopes that they would turn back to Him in faith. Only when there was no remedy would He send them into exile. But even exile had the intent of bringing them to repentance and fellowship once again. Through enemy attack, pestilence, famine, and exile, the God of patience and comfort was always there, maintaining covenant faithfulness to His wayward people.
“Grant you to be like-minded toward one another” – Paul’s petition was that the same patience and comfort displayed by God towards His people would now be displayed between believers. God had set the example, taking many ages to complete His oracles to and through Israel. The prophecies continuously told of the coming Messiah and the prophets continuously re-directed the people in the interim. God asks us to have the same attitude. We are to keep telling of the great deeds of Christ who is the fulfillment of all that was previously written and we are to work to re-direct wayward believers to proper doctrine while overlooking the “disputable matters” which only divert our attention away from a fraternal bond of fellowship.
“According to Christ Jesus” – Christ Jesus sought harmony between his followers and prayed to the Father for this (John 17:11). And this is what Paul now continues to proclaim. As he said in the previous chapter, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Rather than argumentation over disputable matters, there should be peace, harmony, and fellowship. These are the things which lead to godliness. In the book of Ephesians, Paul will summarize it this way –
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
Life application: Life is short enough without wasting time on bickering and disputes. And our Christian life is far too precious to be spoiled by them as well. Let Christ and His perfect doctrine be your deepest desire, your highest joy, and your constant aim.
Lord Jesus, when I’m worn out from the trials of the day, at the times that I fret over some argument or dispute with another person, when money is tight and I wonder how my many bills will get paid – at times like these I still have a peace inside of me which comes from the sure knowledge that You are there with me through such things. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without Your wondrous hand of grace upon me. Thank You, Lord for always being there with me. Amen.