14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15 You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.
When Paul wrote these verses to both Jewish and Gentile Christians he was making the astonishing point that all of us are children of God who are led by God’s Spirit. We are all children, adopted into God’s family, and have God’s Spirit within us, to lead us, teach us, guide and comfort us.
In Paul’s time, Jewish believers didn’t practice adoption, inheritance was based on bloodlines. Only the first born son inherited a double portion of their father’s property as their birthright. The other sons had to divide what little was left. Romans did practice adoption outside of bloodlines. The Roman laws were very specific that the adoptee was a new person, all debts and ties to the past were cancelled and once adopted into the family, the status was permanent. If you were a woman or poor or a slave you couldn’t expect much, if any inheritance.
So imagine hearing Paul’s message that we are all adopted children of God and that “we are all God’s heirs, and fellow heirs with Christ.” This must have been as astonishing to first century listeners as it is to us today. God has adopted us into God’s family, given us God’s Spirit. Made us heirs, where we all receive a portion, not by our own merit, but through Christ’s sacrifice for us. All debts are cancelled and we receive new life in Christ.
This adoption into God’s family and the gift of the indwelling of the Spirit frees us from the bondage of sin and of judgement under the law of Moses. Being led by the Spirit frees us to live a life of love for others, as God loves us. The Spirit teaches us to cry out to God, just as a child cries out in need to its parent. That’s how close God is to each of us, always there for each of us, and a place for each of us in God’s family.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Paul also reminds us that as God’s heirs and heirs with Christ, we will face times of suffering. Loving others and following Jesus often pits us against the status quo. God calls us to show love for those who may hate us. God calls us to stand up and seek justice for the oppressed, to love others by feeding, clothing and offering hospitality to those in need. God calls us to be Christ to others, so through us, Spirit led children, others may experience God’s love.
Have you fully understood the astonishing news that you are a Spirit led child of God, adopted into God’s family? How have you experienced being led by the Spirit to show God’s love to others? Who can you show God’s love to today?
Prayer: Loving God, we are overwhelmed by your love. We give you thanks that we are adopted into your family, made heirs with Christ and led by the Spirit to share your love with others. Amen.
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