December 8: The Gospel for Barbarians and Fools
Jeremiah 14:1–15:21; Romans 1:1–17; Proverbs 15:1–33
It’s dangerous when we feel entitled. We may come to believe our communities are righteous while all those outside are not. This can even take place inside our faith communities—popularity or various achievements can create subtle feelings of superiority. We begin to believe it’s something we’ve done that brings us favor.
As he writes to the church in Rome, Paul explains that it’s not anything we do, anything we are, or anything we obtain that makes us right with God. His calling verifies this: “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. Thus I am eager to proclaim the gospel also to you who are in Rome” (Rom 1:14).
Ethnicity was a big obstacle for the early church to overcome, as the church was now made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers. God promised Abraham that through him “all the peoples on earth will be blessed” (Gen 12:3). Christ’s redemptive work had finally made this blessing a reality. God’s favor was no longer reserved for those who might be educated or wise. Paul emphasizes that God can redeem those who—to us—might seem unlikely recipients of redemption.
But most important, our standing before God is not based on our goodness. Paul is eager to proclaim the gospel in Rome because it is belief in Jesus, the fulfillment of the promise, that makes believers righteous before God—“the gospel … is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16). Christ’s righteousness has become our righteousness.
If anything, this fact should eliminate any sense of entitlement we might harbor and prompt us to walk in humility with believers and non-believers alike. Our relationship with God is intimately tied to how deeply we understand our need for God. The gospel frees us of any need to attain or achieve. For this, we should be incredibly thankful to God and live with humility for Him.
Do you put stock in the things you think make you a “favored” Christian?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- The word of the Lord that came unto Jeremiah concerning the dearth. Judah hath mourned, and the gates thereof are desolate, they have been brought to heaviness unto the ground, and the cry of Jerusalem goeth up. And their nobles have sent their inferiors to the water, who came to the wells, and found no water: they returned with their vessels empty: they were ashamed and confounded: and covered their heads. For the ground was destroyed, because there was no rain in the earth: the plowmen were ashamed and covered their heads. Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass. And the wild asses did stand in the high places, and drew in their win like dragons: their eyes did fail, because there was no grass. O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, deal with us according to thy Name: for our rebellions are many, we sinned against thee. O thou hope of Israel, the savior thereof in the time of trouble, why art thou as a stranger in the land, as one that passeth by, to tarry for a night? Why art thou as a man astonied, and as a strong man that cannot help? yet thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and thy name is called upon us: forsake us not. Thus saith the Lord unto me, Thou shalt not pray to do this people good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry, and when they offer burnt offering, and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence. Then answered I, Ah Lord God, behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall famine come upon you, but I will give you assured peace n this place. Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I have not sent them, neither did I command them, neither spake I unto them, but they prophesy unto you a false vision, and divination, and vanity, and deceitfulness of their own heart. Therefore thus saith the Lord, Concerning the prophets that prophets in my Name, whom I have not sent, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land, by sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. And the people to whom these prophets do prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, because of the famine, and the sword, and there shall be none to bury them: both they and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them. Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them, Let mine eyes drop down tears night and day without ceasing: for the virgin daughter of my people is destroyed with a great destruction, and with a sore grievous plague. For if I go into the field, behold the slain with the sword: and if I enter into the city, behold them that are sick for hunger also: moreover, the Prophet also and the Priest go a wandering into a land that they know not. Hast thou utterly rejected Judah, or hath thy soul abhorred Zion? why hast thou smitten us, that we cannot be healed? We looked for peace, and there is no good, and for the time of health, and behold trouble. We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee. Do not abhor us: for thy Name’s sake cast not down the throne of thy glory: remember and break not thy covenant with us. Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles, that can give rain? or can the heavens give showers? Is it not thou, O Lord, our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things. Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet mine affection could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them depart. And if they say unto thee, Whither shall we depart? then tell them, Thus saith the Lord, Such as are appointed to death, unto death: and such as are for the sword, to the sword: and such as are for the famine, to the famine: and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the Lord, the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear in pieces, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth to devour, and to destroy. I will scatter them also in all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah King of Judah for that which he did in Jerusalem. Who shall then have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall be sorry for thee? or who shall go to pray for thy peace? Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord, and gone backward: therefore will I stretch out mine hand against thee, and destroy thee: for I am weary with repenting. And I will scatter them with the fan in the gates of the earth: I have wasted, and destroyed my people, yet they would not return from their ways. Their widows are increased by me above the sand of the earth: I have brought upon them, and against the assembly of the young men, a destroyer at noon day: I have caused him to fall upon them, and the city, suddenly and speedily. She that hath borne seven, hath been made weak: her heart hath failed: the sun hath failed her, while it was day, she hath been confounded, and ashamed, and the residue of them will I deliver unto the sword before their enemies, saith the Lord. Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me, a contentious man, and a man that striveth with the whole earth: I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent unto me on usury: yet everyone doth curse me. The Lord said, Surely thy remnant shall have wealth: surely I will cause thine enemy to entreat thee in the time of trouble, ad in the time of affliction. Shall the iron break the iron, and the brass that cometh from the North? Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to be spoiled without gain, and that for all thy sins even in all thy borders. And I will make thee to go with thine enemies into a land that knowest not, for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn you. O Lord, thou knowest, remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors: take me not away in the continuance of thine anger: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. Thy words were found by me, and I did eat them, and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for thy Name is called upon me, O Lord God of hosts. I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, neither did I rejoice, but sat alone because of thy plague: for thou hast filled me with indignation. Why is mine heaviness continual? and my plague desperate and cannot be healed, why art thou unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail? Therefore thus saith the Lord, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take away the precious from the vile, thou shalt be according to my word: let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a strong brazen wall, and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee, and to deliver thee, saith the Lord. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the tyrants. Jeremiah 14:1–15:21
- PAUL a servant of JESUS Christ called to be an Apostle, put apart to preach the Gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his Prophets in the holy Scriptures) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, And declared mightily to be the Son of God, touching the Spirit of sanctification by the resurrection from the dead) By whom we have received grace and Apostleship (that obedience might be given unto the faith) for his name among all the Gentiles, Among whom ye be also the called of Jesus Christ: To all you that be at Rome beloved of God, called to be Saints: Grace be with you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. First I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is published throughout the whole world. For God is my witness (whom I serve in my spirit in the Gospel of his Son) that without ceasing I make mention of you. Always in my prayers, beseeching that by some means, one time or other I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God, to come unto you. For I long to see ou, that I might bestow among you some spiritual gift, that you might be strengthened: That is, that I might be comforted together with you, through our mutual faith, both yours and mine. Now my brethren, I would that ye should not be ignorant, how that I have oftentimes purposed to come unto you (but have been let hitherto) that I might have some fruit also among you, as I have among the other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Grecians, and to the Barbarians, both to the wise men and to the unwise. Therefore, as much as in me, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you also that are at Rome. For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Grecian. For by it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Romans 1:1–17
- A soft answer putteth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools babbleth our foolishness. The eyes of the Lord in every place behold the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is as a tree of life: but the frowardness thereof is the breaking of the mind. A fool despiseth his father’s instruction, but he that regardeth correction, is prudent. The house of the righteous shall hath much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble. The lips of the wise do spread abroad knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doth not so. The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination unto the Lord: but the prayer of the righteous is acceptable unto him. The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord: but he loveth him that followeth righteousness. Instruction is evil to him that forsaketh the way, and he that hateth correction, shall die. Hell and destruction are before the Lord, how much more the hearts of the sons of men? A scorner loveth not him that rebuketh him, neither will he go unto the wise. A joyful heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by the sorrow of the heart the mind is heavy. The heart of him that hath understanding, seeketh knowledge: but he mouth of the fool is fed with foolishness. All the days of the afflicted are evil; but a good conscience is a continual feast. Better is a dinner with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of green herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith. An angry man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to wrath, appeaseth strife. The way of a slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is plain. A wise son rejoiceth the father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother. Foolishness is joy to him that is destitute of understanding: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly. Without counsel, thoughts come to nought: but in the multitude of counselors there is steadfastness. A joy cometh to a man by the answer of his mouth: and how good is a word in due season? The way of life is on high to the prudent, to avoid from hell beneath. The Lord will destroy the house of the proud men: but he will stablish the borders of the wisdom. The thoughts of the wicked are abomination to the Lord: but the pure have pleasant words. He that is greedy of gain, troubleth his own house: but he that beareth gifts, shall live. The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the wicked man’s mouth babbleth evil things. The Lord is far off from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous. The life of the eyes rejoiceth the heart, and a good name maketh the bones fat. The ear that hearkeneth to the correction of life, shall lodge among the wise. He that refuseth instruction, despiseth his own soul: but he that obeyeth correction, getteth understanding. The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom: and before honor goeth humility. Proverbs 15:1–33