Read Romans 15:13-33
13May 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.
14I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. 15I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16to 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.
17Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18I 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— 19by 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. 20It 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. 21Rather, as it is written:
"Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand."
22This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.
23But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, 24I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. 26For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. 28So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.
30I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, 32so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. 33The God of peace be with you all. Amen. (NIV)
Paul is nearing the end of his letter to the Romans. And in this letter we see the character of Paul. We see that Paul does not end with harsh words or reprimands. He simply says he talked boldly about the things they already knew to simple remind them again. (Verse 14). We see in all of Paul’s letters that Paul is more important about what a person can become than what a person is. I think we as churches need to have this same attitude toward people. Too often, we want to define people by their past rather than the person in Christ they can become. This is the Gospel message that Christ redeems us and creates us anew.
In verse 16, it is translated that Paul says he is a minister of Jesus Christ. The word translated minister is an interesting word that Paul uses. It is Lietourgos. In ancient Greece, there were tasks taken on by citizens who loved their country greatly. These duties were called, “leitourgiai” which we translate liturgies. They ranged from providing music at major events, to hosting athletes to be trained, to paying for expenses of large public gather gatherings and meals, to pay for those who traveled to be another country on government business or to those who traveled to seek counsel from the Oracle at Dephi, to, lastly was to support the maintenance of one of Greece’s warships. The word eventually became to be known as any service to the country.
This was who Paul was, he loved Jesus Christ and wanted to provide great service to Him with all his resources. He wanted to be an instrument of Christ. And this should be the goal of all of us. When we accept Christ, he gives us gifts to be used in service to Him. That is something we should all strive to do. We all have been given something to do and we are capable of doing it.
Finally Paul explains why he has not visited them. He feels called to go where Christ has not been preached before. Obviously by the letter, there is already a church in Rome. But Paul says he will stop by on his way to Spain. He will never get there as he will be arrested in Jerusalem and will eventually be taken to Rome as a prisoner. Paul seems to anticipate this in his letter to the Romans by asking them to pray that he is kept safe from his enemies there.
In this, we see that even Paul asked for prayers. We all need prayers and we should not be hesitant in asking for them. I have seen too many people hesitant to ask for prayers and we should not be this way. God cares about all our concerns, big and small.
Do you feel that you are a “loyal citizen” eager to help Christ out where he calls us to go or calls us to do? That requires a depth of love that comes over time, but should build as we walk with Christ. Do you seek others to help in your prayer life? We need to have our individual prayer time, but we should ask trusted others to join in our requests. This is part of being a community of believers which is how we grow in our faith.
Blessings and Peace