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Righteousness, Peace, and Joy | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Righteousness, Peace, and Joy

Last week’s devotional ended with the statement, “The cross is always and essentially the embodiment of love. If we have experienced this kind of love poured out by the Holy Spirit into our hearts, then we must join with Paul in putting others before ourselves. It is the way of the cross. It is the way of Christ.”

This statement flowed from Paul’s writings to the church in Corinth. The essential argument is putting others before ourselves for the sake of Christ. This argument is not confined Corinthians. Matter of fact, it enhances the way we read Romans 13 and 14.

Let me give you some quick context of Romans. The church in Rome was a divided church like many of the New Testament churches. This division fell along the lines of Jewish and Gentile believers. The disagreements usually centered on three primary issues- heritage, circumcision, and dietary laws. Paul speaks directly to these issues throughout Romans.

As Paul brings Romans to a close, he deals with the dietary issues similarly to the arguments in Corinthians. Look at a few excerpts from Romans 13 and 14:
  • Romans 13:8-10 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
  • Romans 14:7-8 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
  • Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
  • Romans 14:17-19 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up-building.

All of these passages are pointing in the same direction and Paul summarizes it all for us at the beginning of chapter 15- “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself…” (vss 1-3a).

As we will see on Sunday, Cross-Shaped Faith is a faith of sacrifice and suffering. This is in the pattern of Christ himself. I hope that as you prepare for worship; you read through John 13. It is a powerful story of Christ placing Himself before His apostles as He washes their feet.

“Lord, help me embody these words of Paul. Give me patience to bear with the weak, knowing that I too am weak. May peace mark my life and may I build up my brothers and sisters. Help me see that your Kingdom is about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Sprit. And, Lord, remove anything in my life that is a stumbling block to another. In your precious name, Amen.”