“Wrestling With Romans”
Passion to Minister (Chapter 1 Verses 8-17)
The main topic of Paul’s letter to the Romans is that of faith (v16). And his scheme is to establish them in, and build them up in their faith. He wants to minister to these lovely Christians, that they may be established, made strong (v11), he says. Even as he puts his pen to paper, a prayer of thanksgiving issues from his warm and large heart (v8). And that through Jesus Christ, whose mediatorial role has produced fellowship between this preacher and group of Christians who have never even met as yet. Now it is possible, is it not that some of these people in this Church might not be genuine Christians, there may just be some who are false professors, as we call them. Such a thought, Paul does not even allow to intrude into his mind here, no, he treats them all as believers, knowing that there is One who knows everything, and those who are indeed his (2Timothy 2.19). It is not Paul’s, nor our place to make such judgments. There is nothing stingy about this man Paul, he has a big loving heart (1Corinthians 13.4-8a), but then that is not surprising when you consider Jesus Christ was his role-model. We must study to be like them.
To Paul preaching the gospel was not simply a form of employment, it was an act of Christian worship (v9). It was something he engaged in wholeheartedly, passionately, as to the Lord (Colossians 3.17). We catch here a glimpse of the man’s whole inner attitude, not only concerning preaching but his prayer life too. With this inwardness of spirit, constantly in contact with God, Paul continually thinks about these people in Rome, longing to see them. He is only too aware of the Lord guiding his steps in all his missionary endeavours (Acts 16.6-10), and even now realises in spite of his desires, ultimately it is down to the Lord’s desires, where he goes from here (v10). He is not a man to do his own thing, he is under authority, constantly under Jesus’ Lordship (1Corinthians 6.19), the phrase Jesus Christ is Lord was not an empty one for Paul (Philippians 2.11). Even when, humanly speaking, the providential outworking of that will, was not too pleasant (Acts 21.13-14). Paul, of course, did not arrive at that place of contentment overnight, he had to learn it within his daily circumstances (Philippians 4.11). Whatever we determine to do, that does not bear God’s consent, will not flourish, because God will undermine all our expectations.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)