Devotional Thoughts on Romans 6:1-14
May 11-17, 2015
Monday, May 11, 2015
“Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1)?
Paul has boldly proclaimed that we have been justified before God not by keeping the law but because of God’s love through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “Now the just live by faith not by the law” (Romans 1:17). For us who have been raised in a society of do’s and don’ts, good and bad we have a difficult time dealing with this. We have gone from an “A,” “B,” “C,” grading system to a “Passed” on everyone’s report card. Freed from a report card the question pops into our mind, “Why study?”
Some of Paul’s readers seeing that they were freed from the law called out, “Let’s party!” They thought that the law was given by God in order to limit their fun and enjoyment of life. Their previous motto was, “If it’s fun its got to be a sin.” It turned in to “We are falling deep in sin, Whee!” They might even have recklessly quoted Jesus when Jesus says, “The one to whom little is forgiven, loves little” (Luke 7:47).
Paul shouts a resounding, “No!” to such thoughts. We were not saved for sin. Sin is part of our old life. God’s overwhelming grace in our lives raises questions. Why did God give us the law? How do we live if we don’t need the law? Lutheran Theologian Gerhard Forde poised the question this way, “What do you do when you don’t have to do anything?” Its’s a good question. How would you answer it?
Forgiving Lord, forbid that we misuse your grace or take it lightly. Guide us that we may live lives that honor you in the freedom of that grace. Amen.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
“All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” (Romans 6:3).
Carl Summers was eating breakfast with his wife Karen when he glanced at the calendar and realized what day it was. It was his one year anniversary of his heart transplant. His eyes became moist. Life had been such a burden as he struggled to breath–to live. He had “died” several times while waiting for his transplant but the doctors had resuscitated him. When he received his new heart, he had been given a new life.
His life was vastly different. Exercise and healthy eating were now a part of it. He was able to enjoy each day and savor the time he spent with his wife, children and grandchildren. He had died to his old life on the operating table. His new life was before him.
God is a God who brings new life from death. We died in our baptisms–drowned by the water. Out of that water, though, new people emerged. We are forever changed and each day is an expression of that new life.
God of life, death is a part of life. Forbid that we should fear the deaths we experience in our lives knowing that you have conquered death and bring new life. Amen.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
“Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
We have heard the testimonies. God’s Spirit has touched the lives of people in their darkest hours and in the depth of their rebellion. Brought from death to new life, their lives show a dramatic change. Alcoholics are sober, addicts are chemical free, broken relationships are healed, forgiveness is given and absolution is proclaimed.
Many Christians have not had such dramatic encounters with the Holy Spirit and such changes in their lives. The Spirit has moved in their lives in seemingly minuscule ways. They wonder if there is something missing–if they need something more in their lives.
In the waters of baptism, we are all on the same level; in the same condition. The Holy Spirit moves in all of our lives in the same way. In the waters of baptism we are cleansed. The waters also kills and we died to our old lives. The Spirit fills us and breathes new life into us. Finally we are anointed as God’s children and adopted into God’s family.
Our stories may be different but we are the same in baptism. God moves to bring us from death to new life.
O Spirit who breathes new life in us, may we breathe deeply, be filled with your Spirit and be empowered to serve you by loving the people around us. Amen.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
“We will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:5).
Resurrection is all around us.Spring brings new life from the death of winter. The loss of childhood is resurrected in the teen years and the teens die and are resurrected in young adulthood. The death of relationships that are caused by moving to a new community is resurrected in new friendships.
We look to the God of life to bring resurrection to the deaths we experience in life. There will come a time, though, when we will look to God with the hope that we will be united with Jesus in his victory over death. Whether the death of a loved one or our own death we rejoice that death has lost its sting and a life with Christ is ours forever.
Oh victorious God enable us to live boldly in the knowledge that you have conquered death. Amen.
Friday, May 15, 2015
“We might no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6).
In Cleveland, Ohio, three young girls were kidnapped and enslaved for ten years before escaping to freedom. Young girls in Nigeria were captured by Islamic extremists and sold into slavery. Young boys and girls are enslaved by their pimps in a sex trade that exists in countries around the world. No one wants to be a slave, but many are slaves.
Many of us live in free societies. We celebrate our liberty and usually don’t realize how enslaved we are. Some are enslaved to their jobs–workaholics–at the expense of their family. Many are enslaved to the “Ism’s” and prejudices that are prevalent where they live. Our selfishness and self-centeredness enslave us with contracts, debt and the inability to see the needs of others. Our addictions enslave us, and of course all those little sins that, “won’t hurt anyone,” have the power to enslave also.
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection have set us free. We now have relationships with God that are not based upon the law, but upon grace. Set free, we no longer “got to” to please God, now we voluntarily “get to”. The Holy Spirit moves in our lives giving us the power to say, “No,” to sin and works to break the chains that enslave us.
We have been set free. God’s Spirit enables us to go beyond limiting this truth to our theology. The Spirit empowers us to make it a part of our lives.
God of forgiveness and freedom, forgive us when we enslave ourselves. Empower us to live in the truth of our freedom that you have given us through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
“No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness” (Romans 6:13a).
Raul was a decorated soldier who fought bravely in both Iran and Afghanistan. When his tour of duty was up he decided that the life of a soldier was not for him. He used the funds offered to him by the military to further his education. He became an emergency room nurse. One night after being part of a team that saved the life of an auto accident victim Raul held up his hands and marveled that his hands could be used for both life and death.
Our bodies and minds can be used for both good and evil. As bullies we can push people down, or as their friends we can help them up. We can use our imagination to plot revenge, or to envision a celebration. Our tongues can break another person down, or build that person up.
We are living a new life because of our baptism and what Jesus Christ has done through his life, death and resurrection. Part of that old life was to use our bodies and minds for evil and wickedness. Now we use them for an entirely different purpose.
God of creation, you have created us not for evil but for good. Forgive us when we hurt others and dishonor you. Empower us that our members may be used for your glory. Amen.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
“But present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life” (Romans 6:13b).
Paul gives this charge to his readers again later in Romans. He writes, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). Things are not the same. The cross of Christ changed everything. At our baptism we were changed. We cannot go on living as if nothing happened. We have been brought from death to life.
For one small business owner this meant that profit was no longer the bottom line. Instead her goals changed to establishing relationships with her customers and treating them fairly. She also decided to treat her employees fairly and with respect. A retiree sensed that he was being called to offer words of recognition, encouragement and thanksgiving whenever possible. A driver caught in traffic decided to pray for the drivers around him instead of curse the gridlock.
We present ourselves to God and commit ourselves to serving God and loving our neighbor because of what has happened in our lives. We present ourselves to God and turn away from using our talents and abilities solely for the purpose of getting ahead and meeting our needs. Now, we become aware of the needs of others and discover creative ways to meet those needs. In union with Saint Francis we present ourselves to God and pray that God might make us instruments of God’s peace.”
All things are new in the new life that we now have because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Holy Lord, remind us that you are not in this world to serve us, but that we are in this world to serve you. Use us! Amen.