Debtors to Both God and Man

My friends and I worked our way through the book of Romans for our daily devotions in February and two things that I read in Romans 1 really stuck out to me because I know it is something that I struggle with. I also know that it is something that other Christians struggle with as well. I have heard this struggle talked about in catechism classes, in young peoples and young adults meetings, as well as at the Christian college that I go to. It is a very prevalent struggle, and I wanted to write some encouragement for all of us who do struggle with it.

Romans 1:8 and 14 are the two verses that stuck out to me while reading through the book of Romans. They talk about two different topics that, as I said before, many Christians struggle with. To start, verse eight says, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” This may seem like an ordinary verse that Paul uses to greet the church and tell them how thankful he is for them. This is true, but there is also something deeper that we can get out of this verse.

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”

Romans 1:8

When I first read it, it struck me how he says that their “faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” This is amazing. The fact that the whole world had heard about and talked about the God-given faith of the Romans is unbelievable and really encouraging to hear, as I’m sure it was for Paul as well. Then I realized that I need to have this as a goal in my own life too. Not in a vain way as the Pharisee shows in Luke 18, but in a God-glorifying way that stands as a witness to His grace.

So often it is much easier to stand aside and stay quiet about our faith even with our own Christian friends. It is much easier to talk about sports or our favorite books or what we had for lunch yesterday than it is to talk about God and everything that we believe and live for. We are called to be witnesses for God throughout our journey in this life. The Roman Christians, through the work of the Spirit, show us how important it is to talk about and be strong in our faith. We need to let the whole world hear and see our faith so much that they also begin to talk about it. Do not hide your light under a bushel, but let it shine and let the whole world be witness to it (see Luke 11:33 and the song, “This Little Light of Mine”).

The second struggle that stood out to me was in verse fourteen. It says, “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.” This verse shows how Paul humbled himself just as Jesus did. Jesus and Paul demonstrate throughout their lives what it means to humble themselves and treat everyone with kindness and respect. Jesus, for example, washed the disciples’ feet in John 13, and in verses 13 and 14 he says, “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Jesus did not come to earth in order to save or serve everyone. He came to earth to die for God’s elect. However, he still humbled himself among every person he met and treated them with respect, love, and kindness. One example of this that sticks out is how he fed so many people more than once with just a small amount of food available. Jesus provided for them, but that doesn’t mean he served them in a spiritual sense. Jesus’ humility is an example of the Matthew 7:12 verse which says, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets”.

“I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.”

Romans 8:14

Our pride is a sin that so many of us must fight against, including myself. We would never even consider washing others’ feet, instead letting them deal with it themselves. So often we think “Whatever is happening to them is their problem; I have no part in it.” Christ and Paul show us over and over again that we are to humble ourselves. Some example texts are John 13, Luke 22:24-27, Philippians 2:3-8, Philippians 2:17-30, among many others.

In order to live a Christ-like life and in order to be a witness to God and His Word we must live in humility towards our neighbors. Through the strength of the Holy Spirit, we must fight our pride that steers us away from bowing down and helping others and perhaps even causes us to sneer at those who do. We must learn from Jesus’ and Paul’s examples and be witnesses to God by living in humility with our neighbors in order to point them to Christ and give God the glory.

Brittany Bylsma

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