I had a discussion this week about our idea of “mission trips,” and what that phrase conveys to modern Christians. For some believers, it means assuming the role of a superhero, traveling to a new place that needs us. But the truth is that spiritual brokenness isn’t defined by borders. In today’s passage, Paul writes to the Romans in hopes that they will be mutually encouraged by his visit. Paul recognizes that although he has been tasked with spreading the gospel, he still has a lot to learn.
- With whom are you sharing the gospel?
READ THE WORD: ROMANS 1:8-17 (ESV)
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1. How does this passage reveal that the gospel was spreading successfully?
2. What reasons did Paul give for wanting to visit the Romans?
3. In verse 14, what did Paul mean when he said he is under “obligation” to Greeks and barbarians? How do you feel obligated by the gospel?
4. What does being ashamed of the gospel look like in your life and relationships?
RESPOND TO GOD
I love Paul’s heart in this passage. There is a genuine sense that Paul feels like he has just as much to gain from the Romans as they have to gain from him, despite the fact that he is the leading force in the spread of the early church. He longs to be encouraged by his brothers and sisters in Christ, reaping the harvest, not coming to their rescue. There is no hierarchy of spiritual need. When given the opportunity to spend time with Christians in other parts of the world, we must remember that it isn’t our job to rescue them. We’re lousy saviors, and we’re all equally broken. But we can be mutually encouraged by the transformative power of the gospel that is needed by all of us.
- Pray for a heart for others, that you would have a passion like Paul’s to encourage others in the gospel.
- Talk to God about the places you are tempted to be ashamed of the gospel. Ask God for forgiveness and pray for bold faith.