The Book of Romans provides several theological discussions about Christian living. In the previous post in this series from Romans (see Punctilious Christianity), we learned that Christians shouldn’t let their personal convictions cause someone else to question the legitimacy of their faith.
In Romans 15 Paul continues this lesson on not allowing your personal convictions to cause a Christian brother or sister to stumble.
Paul makes a distinction between the weak and strong Christian and then declares that the primary characteristic of a strong Christian is not to please yourself but to conduct yourself in a way that strengthens your brother or sister.
After all, that’s what Jesus did: “For Christ did not please himself” (vs. 3).
Not only is Christ our example on how to be a strong Christian, all the Scriptures were written to teach us how to be strong in our faith in God.
In Christ and in God’s Word we find hope! And, the more we learn about God through the Scriptures and by the example of Jesus, the more we trust Him and the greater our hope–the more we “abound in hope” (vs. 13).
If we have hope in the mercy of God, then surely we don’t have anything to fear.
But, some Christians still live their lives in fear. They fear that something bad is going to happen. Or, they fear that something good won’t happen.
Fear is the opposite of hope. If you have no hope you are afraid of some future catastrophe–sometimes real but often imagined.
As Christians we live life forward to our futures, not backwards to our pasts. Because hope is always about the future, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?“ (Romans 8:24, ESV).
Don’t be afraid of the future. Don’t be a pusillanimous Christian. If your hope is in God and God is in control of your life, then you have nothing to fear. God is in charge of your future. In fact, God is leading you into your future.
So follow Him. Follow Jesus and the instruction of God’s Word.
And, if that’s not enough, God has even empowered us by His indwelling Spirit with hope so that we don’t have to live in fear: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.“ (Romans 15:13, ESV).
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)