Living for Jesus and for Others
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. (Romans 1:8-15)
It was typical and consistent of Paul to offer thanks and prayers for the churches. By reading his letters, it is apparent that he had a very rich prayer life. He loved the Lord and he genuinely loved the Lord’s people, Christ’s bride.
Although Paul the apostle had never been to Rome by the time he wrote the epistle to the Romans, it is very obvious that he had a deep longing for the church that was in that great city. His desire to be with the Christians in Rome was very strong, an intense longing. On the pastoral and apostolic side, he wanted to minister to them spiritually that they would be established in their young faith. On the human side, he wanted to be encouraged in the sharing of their mutual faith. His ministry with the Roman church would not be one-sided; both he and they would be blessed!
Paul longed for spiritual fruit to be produced wherever he went, and even expected it. He knew the Lord was with him in his travels and service to the saints (Matthew 28:20), and he knew that the Father is glorified when we bear much fruit (John 15:8). Therefore he longed to go to Rome; not as a tourist, but as a servant of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).
He felt himself to be a debtor to the Lord, who had saved his life and given him eternal salvation. He owed it to the Lord to preach the gospel … to the cultured and uncultured, and to those steeped in education and philosophy and to those who were not. He was ready, willing, and available for this task.
For Further Review:
1. Do you love your church? Do you love the people in your church? How deep is your prayer life for them, or for the rest of the body of Christ? List some of the things about your church that you are thankful for.
2. Too often, church attenders are like consumers, interested primarily in what the church has to offer them. Others learn to become servants, and are concerned mostly about serving the Lord by serving His people. Which are you, consumer or servant? What changes do you need to make to move you toward true servanthood, toward a mature love for others in Christ’s body?
3. What is spiritual fruit? See if you can find out by searching the New Testament for the word “fruit.” You can use a good concordance to help you, such as a Strong’s Concordance (available online).
4. Why do you believe Paul was a debtor to preach the gospel? To whom did he owe this debt, and why? How does your answer relate to and apply to your own life?
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