READ: Numbers 7-9, Psalm 43, Mark 15, Romans 15
PATIENCE AND COMFORT
In Romans 15:1, Paul exhorts believers to bear with the scruples of the weak, to not please ourselves. In 15:2, we are instructed to please our neighbors for their good. Love can be defined as doing what is best for our neighbor, regardless of the cost to us – or them. The point is edification, not the pleasure of the process. Our model is Christ (v. 3) who “did not please Himself….but bore reproach” for others.
A Roman watched Jesus die and the manner of Jesus’ death convinced him of Christ’s divinity (Mark 15:38). It is important that we die well. To live dead is to live a life that dies progressively. For the Christian, death is a daily process, not a one-time event. Paul knew what this meant testifying, “I die daily.”
The Patience and Comfort of the Scriptures. (Rom. 15:4) Interestingly, when we “die daily” by laying down our lives for others, it leads to hope. This is what the Scriptures teach us. The lives of our forerunners in the faith show us that the deepest satisfaction is linked to the costliest sacrifice. The lives that were poured out for others were the lives most rewarded with the presence of Jesus. The history of faith gives us hope for a precedent is established which guarantees blessing to the lowly.
The Patience and Comfort of God. (Rom. 15:5) This Scriptural promise is valid because it is based in the character of God. Time works for God. God is not subject to the laws and restraints of time. The Author of time commands and demands its servitude. What comfort in knowing that time is a slave of God. Time does His bidding. Time is therefore on the side of the righteous. We can die daily because we know that time (God’s servant) will ultimately bring life and comfort.
The Patience and Comfort of the Body. (Rom. 15:5-6) Because God is patient and over time comforts us, because we have the biblical record of comfort resulting from patience and bursting forth in hope, we can then be patient with one another. We can lay down our wills for one another because the character of God has been demonstrated through history and we are connected to that living history. I can die daily for my brother because Jesus died eternally for me. I can be patient with my sister, and she with me, because God has been patient with us. We can hope to see endless life on the other side of daily death because God purposed resurrection after crucifixion. If God can patiently endure the agonizing death of His Son for the joyous comfort on the other side, then surely I can put up with some relatively minor irritants for the good of the body, for the sake of my brother.