The third and final supporting point in this section is found in 15:1-13 and shows us that we are intended to live in unity and hope. Paul has broken this passage into three sections:
First, he shows us that selfless service brings about a unified testimony:
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In these verses, Paul seems to be raising the bar to the highest level, the level of Christ Himself. How are we to get through this life of serving others? By having a whole new attitude, that of Jesus, who, in everything that He said and did, put others first so that God’s purpose might be accomplished. Is this too much to ask of us?
No, not at all, for remember what we’ve learned about grace it provides not only forgiveness of sins, but everything we need to live our lives as followers of Jesus, through the working of the Holy Spirit.
Second, through Christ’s selfless service, Jew and Gentile glorify God together:
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.”
Again, it says,
“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.”
And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.
Through Jesus, God has been glorified through both Jew and Gentile. Through Jesus Christ, God can be glorified through both you and me. When we set aside our disagreements, our differences, our selves, we can be one in Christ, just as we were intended to be. This is a very simple idea; it is easy to say and easy to write, but it is not always easy to practice.
But it isn’t as hard as we might think. We have the Holy Spirit within us, to lead, comfort, instruct and strengthen us, just as soon as we are willing to hear what He has to say to us. Do you believe this? Abraham did, and it was credited to him as righteousness. To follow Jesus Christ, we must believe the promises of God, and to live as though they had all already been accomplished; this is faith in action, and faith in action must of necessity be exercised by putting love into action. This is Paul’s teaching in Romans, and it is the challenge before us today.
Finally, Paul offers a prayer that we might all live in hope:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.