The Fruit Of Hope
Humble Service in the Body of Christ
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality. Once an exotic and costly delicacy saved for royalty, the pineapple now stands as a welcoming beacon for all. The Jews and Gentiles in Rome should have been a vibrant reflection of the Lord welcoming all and worshiping together. Instead, they were a reflection of a culture. The choice of colors does not reflect any one thing except they are vibrant. We are to be a vibrant reflection of our Lord because He is vibrant.
In the first 11 chapters of Romans we see that many people in the Church are not serving each other in humility. Most of this seems to be a conflict between the Roman Gentile and Jewish Christians. The Jews had put their hope in the law(works – 9:30-32). They were not resting in the Lord’s work but their own. There is no rest for the one who must keep working for their salvation. The Gentiles were arrogant because they thought themselves morally superior to the Jews.(11:17-23) They, also, were not resting in what the Lord had done. He reminds the gentiles of the kindness that God has shown them by grafting them in. The two cultures of the Jew and the Gentile had come clashing together.
In CH 12, Paul reminds those who say they love Christ to be sincere and loving. He charges them: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” They live in hypocrisy showing little passion, little hope in the Lord. They are not a reflection of what the Lord has done or who He is. They don’t use their gifts to glorify the Lord. They use what is comfortable to them. Their rest/hope is in themselves. Zeal is mentioned several times in this passage. Paul connects it to their hope. Because their hope is in their own works, they have no passion, no joy, no zeal.
****Isn’t this the church today? We are warring against each other because of our different ideas and cultures. We give very little hope and help to the people around us because we are too concerned with what we ourselves want. We do not serve as a Body or reach out with joy because our “zeal” is for ourselves. Are we resting in our own works? Are we arrogant and do not treat others with love? If we rested in the Lord and what He has done through His Son, what would be different about the Body? How would we live in this divided, fractured world?
In CH 13-16, Paul reminds us of what it looks like for the believer to love his enemy, rest in Christ with Christian freedom, live under the governing authorities, and wrestle with law and love……as we hope in the Lord and together as one Body. The people of God must find their identity in the Lord and not their culture. – the Jews and the Gentiles each wanted it their way. They were not united in purpose. They needed to rest/hope in the Lord….cling to what is good. He is good. The gifts He gives to each one of them are to be used purposely to glorify Him and not themselves. The true believer is to live personally and passionately from their gifts for the purpose of Glorifying their Lord.
He has given us gifts for a purpose…..to glorify Him. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” If our faith is sincere, we serve others out of a genuine unified love/passion for our Lord and our culture will not rule our hearts. The “fruit” of this hope is joy, patience, faithfulness, hospitality, and love. When we rest in Him, we serve with encouragement, diligence, generosity and mercy.
**This scripture is longer than normal for a theme scripture. Working with a whole passage of scripture can not only be edifying, but help you understand the author’s intent in context.
Consider the following as a means to work through the scripture throughout the year. What else could you do?
- Divide the scripture into parts and teach through each part with devotions and programs.
- You might work with your PWOC ladies to memorize the passage throughout the year and consider giving a reward such as the book Comforts from Romans: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time by Elizabeth Fitzpatrick.
- Develop the passage throughout the year according to the AIMS of PWOC…one Aim at a time.
- Have devotionals based in the gifts and fruits found in the passage – grace, prophecy, faith, serving, teaching, encouragement, giving, generosity, leading, diligence, mercy, cheerfulness, love, sincerity, hate, evil, goodness, devotion to one another, honor, zeal, spiritual fervor, joy, hope, patience, affliction, faithfulness, prayer, need, and hospitality.