4 Whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction so that we could have hope through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude toward each other, similar to Christ Jesus’ attitude. 6 That way you can glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ together with one voice.
7 So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory.
Biblical commentary that I read about the book of Romans suggests that Paul was writing his letter to believers in Rome around A.D. 57. Of course, the ancient texts of the Old Testament (OT) were known at that time, yet the canon (the fixed list of books) of the New Testament (NT) had not yet been formed. That did not happen until much later, about the fourth century. So when we read about finding “hope through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures,” we are hearing Paul’s words of instruction in view of the Old Testament.
In reading the OT, I really understand about the “endurance,” of which Paul speaks. But as far as finding “encouragement”, sometimes I want to say: Paul, it is sometimes tough to hear encouragement through the Old Testament. As a reader and believer, perhaps you know what I mean! Fortunately, Paul’s own words are encouraging and here he uses some of the Psalms and Isaiah to guide us. I also think of the word, “encouragement” and how it comes from the word “courage.”
I am reminded of all the ways of Christ, who gives us the ultimate example of courage through his love in action. I think of the courageous way that Jesus’ love gives us a living hope through his actions. As Paul offers, “May the God of endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude toward each other, similarly to Christ Jesus’ attitude.” So Paul’s words aren’t just words of encouragement that we read, they are words that are alive because of Jesus.
Jesus’ attitude and actions bravely became the living example of love to live by. Although we are reading about events, Jesus radically lived them. Two thousand years after his earthly life, how do we embody Jesus’ actions and attitude for one another? When we do, we glorify God by such courageous love. So how do you courageously love like Jesus loved? May we be courageous and love like Jesus today!
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
When we read about the life of Jesus, we must remember that Paul’s words describe actions that really happened. Two thousand years after Jesus’ earthly life, how do we embody his actions and attitude for one another? How do we courageously love like Jesus loved? What can you do today to glorify God by sharing Jesus’ love?
Prayer: Courageous Jesus, we want to endure and find courage in your holy name, but sometimes we hold ourselves back. Thank you for your love, however and wherever we find it in the world. Help us to love and live by your example. Help us to recognize your love in others, so that we may glorify your holy name –all because of love. Amen.