Encouragement to All

Romans 15:14-20 (NIV)

I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done--by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation.

I don’t know why, but this passage makes me ponder how much change Paul underwent to go from being a Pharisee that persecuted the church, and now he was an apostle to the gentiles for Jesus. Most of us do not change so radically. But most of us do not get literally knocked on our backsides by Jesus either.

So Paul has instructed the church in Rome by his letter, because of what he has heard, and as of yet, has never been there. Here he is getting ready to close his letter to them, and to start the close, he encourages them.

I think this is how we should be. We need to focus on positive things, and encourage one another. Building up one another in Christ’s love and mercy.

I think the radical change in Paul was because he knew how wrong he had been, and when Jesus forgave him, He also showed Paul that he would have to suffer for his faith in Christ as well. Did Jesus show him some of the positive that would come from it? We don’t know. He may have, or He may have just said this is what will happen to you, but I will be glorified through it.

I know that persecution and trials are coming again to the church. Here in America, we are starting to see people turn against the church, but it will get much worse. We must, however remain like Paul, and just keep on doing the Lord’s work, cheerfully telling people about His love and mercy.

by Virgil Stripes

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