This morning I opened my Bible at Romans 15.
Four verses leapt off the page at me. It always surprises me when so much meaning and content is seamlessly crammed into so few words.
Verses 5-7 say, ‘May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.’
Those who are observant will have noticed that that is only three verses. It’s alright, I can count and I haven’t gone mad, I will share the fourth verse later.
Even within 56 words there is so much content. Writing in such a concise manner is quite a skill, isn’t it? It’s one that I have yet to develop!
It seems to me that the reason it is so effective is that Paul uses big words to convey some requirements of discipleship. He shows the reader that God gives us the endurance and encouragement required for His work. Paul then points out that God gives us a spirit of unity.
What then is the purpose of unity? Well, I don’t believe that it involves conformity or uniformity. I do however agree with Paul. I believe that unity has a twofold purpose. First to glorify God. Second to bring praise to God through the action of acceptance.
Unity and acceptance are huge topics. They’re also incredibly difficult to achieve and maintain. But, I find it somewhat comforting that God provides us with the endurance and encouragement to do the very things that He asks us to do.
The fourth verse that leapt off the page at me is this, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ (Romans 15:13 NIV)
This one was just what I needed. It doesn’t say anything new to me, it’s just a timely reminder that I’m loved and have hope. It is comforting because I can ask again for Abba to pour His joy and peace into me so that I overflow with hope in my heart, mind and spirit. My prayer today is that the Holy Spirit will refresh me once again to overflowing as I live for and serve the LORD.