Romans 15:5 (KJV)

The Word Says:
“Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:”

Verse Thoughts:
We easily feel criticised and rejected. Our natural reaction is to do the same back. That, however, solves nothing and only drives a further wedge between us. When we are hurt or when we think someone is acting wrongly we don’t try to hang on to the other, but we hit out with attack, ridicule or self justification.

The above passage comes at the end of a section that deals with divisions in the church between strong and weak, between Jew and Gentile, between weak and strong in both groups. To show the Romans that each should not try to please them­selves he pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ went to the cross to bear the reproaches made against God. They too had to learn to live in the same way. In looking at Christ’s actions as explained by Scripture they could learn to live in hope through the patience and encourage­ment so gained.

In that context we read this small prayer and exhortation. The prayer is directed to the God of endurance and encouragement. Again the apostle focuses on the same qualities, but now he looks to God to provide those qualities to those who are being criticised. They need to stand firm, to make sacrifices for the good of each other. For that they will need endurance or patience and encour­agement or comfort as these terms can also be translated.

These qualities are not simply for the good of those criticised. They are for the good of the whole. We should not think this is an exercise in self-improvement, but an exercise in unity building. By restricting their freedom they will be able to live in harmony with each other and that is of great value.

That harmony, however, is in accord with Christ Jesus. It is not simply harmony for harmony’s sake, for that could be harmony or unity in evil. This harmony or unity which Paul prays for has a standard – Christ Jesus who did not please Himself, but God. The Lord’s intention was to create one new man from Jew and Gentile. This would create many tensions and misunderstandings and the only way that it could work was by everyone, to say it colloqui­ally, ‘pulling their heads in’. Only if the brothers and sisters would live to please their neighbour would the unity God sought be achieved.

There was a purpose for that unity. It was not an end in itself, but the end was the united praise and glory of God. They had to become one in mind and mouth so that in true unity they could praise and glorify the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul writes it this way, probably to make us recall the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He humbled Himself to take on human nature and to die on the cross. That was God’s gift to mankind. He was given to unite people from every tribe and nation into one people of God to the praise of His glory and grace. Paul wanted the church in Rome to work towards that in one Spirit.

He, therefore, finishes with an exhortation – receive each other for the glory of God and he gives a reason, because Christ also received us for that purpose. We were sinners and unclean, but Christ received us through faith in Him for the glory of God. Therefore we should receive each other as well for we have all been cleansed in Christ’s blood, so that we can do what we were created and united for – the glory of God. That is the purpose of our lives, not only individually, but also as congregations and as churches. The unity we have in Christ must come to expression to the glory of God. Where we bicker and fight often about non-essential things we do not worship God with one mind and one mouth. The praise of God is fragmented and soured. God is glorified by unity which is according to Christ Jesus, that has Him as its standard and measure. Then our praise of God is acceptable to Him. Let us strive to achieve that goal with joy and patience.