“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4, ESV).
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).
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it (Proverbs 3:27, ESV).
Did you know that you have superhero power? If you don’t know what your superhero power is, then read this verse from Proverbs over again!
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO DO GOOD!
If there is one superhero power better than all others, it’s certainly the power to do good! After all, isn’t “Good” what all superheroes are trying to accomplish with whatever superpower they have?
So, you have the greatest superpower of all superpowers–TO DO GOOD!
“And the people of Gad and the people of Reuben answered, ‘What the Lord has said to your servants, we will do. We will pass over armed before the Lord into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us beyond the Jordan'” (Numbers 32:31-32, ESV).
In Numbers 32 the Israelites are preparing for the conquest of the promised land. The people of the tribes of Reuben and Gad requested that Moses allow them to settle in lands on the east side of the Jordan River, which was not within the boundaries of the promised land. They wanted to settle east of the Jordan because they owned large herds of livestock and there was good grazing land there.
At first Moses resisted their request pointing out that they were disobeying God just like their fathers who died during their forty-year wandering in the wilderness because they rebelled against the plan to possess the land God had promised.
So, the tribes of Reuben and Gad struck a deal with Moses that they would settle their families and livestock on the east side of the Jordan but their fighting men would take up arms and lead in the battles against the inhabitants of the land until all the people groups in the land of Canaan were subdued. If they stayed until the war in Canaan was over, then the lands on the east side of the Jordan would be their inheritance.
“The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11, CEB).
I often take my kids to the skating rink to roller skate. Since they are still learning to skate, I tell them to keep their heads in front of their skates. Then, if they fall, they will fall forward and can catch themselves on their hands and knees and can get back up and continue skating. If they fall backward on their head or back, they risk hurting themselves and not wanting to skate anymore.
I’ve spent much of my career trying to understand how people learn. And one thing I’ve learned about learning is that some of the best learning occurs from failing. For example, it’s easier to learn how to skate when you know how to fall.
“This day is holy to our Lord. Don’t be sad, because the joy from the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10, CEB).
When Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, took over a vast territory from the Babylonians, he allowed the Jewish exiles from the Babylonian captivity to begin returning to their ancestral land of Judah and to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
When the emigres encountered resistance from the occupants of the land to rebuild the Temple, Ezra, the scribe and priest, taught them God’s Law. At first they felt convicted because they had not obeyed the Law. But knowing God’s law helped them know God’s will and gave them the capacity to receive His strengthening to accomplish it. And, consequently it turned their sadness to joy because it gave them hope for a better tomorrow.
We live in a world that is bombarded by negative forces. This world loves a catastrophe; it obsesses over tragedy; it revels in the personal and moral failures of its occupants.
“I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content–whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance, or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-14, HCSB).
In response to their faithful financial support of his ministry, the Apostle Paul expressed his appreciation to the Philippians by making the well-known and oft-quoted declaration that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever” (Ephesians 3:20-21, ESV).
A superhero is a person who has extraordinary or superhuman powers and is dedicated to protecting the world from evil.
“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives.” (Romans 6:6, NLT).
When you are joined with Christ, your old source of power, sin, gets unplugged and you plug into a new source of power, the Holy Spirit.
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31, NLT).
Isaiah reminds us that God is the Creator and His Being is everlasting and immeasurable. So, God Himself never grows weak or weary; rather He gives His power and strength to those who are weak and powerless.
“As Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, a young lion suddenly attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah. At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat” (Judges 14:6, NLT).
Samson was an enigmatic leader who was an inspirational but flawed hero.