Yesterday we saw Paul pray that Christians will be unified in purpose to glorify God together as if they were all singing the same song. To get there, though, Paul has made it clear that both the strong and weak in faith (Rom 14:1) will have to yield to each other and refuse to judge each other (Rom 14:13). We will have to set ourselves aside to be able to harmonize and sing with one voice.
Today, we look at this further in order to glorify God together. “Therefore accept one another, just as Christ also accepted you, to the glory of God. For I say that Christ became a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises to the fathers, and so that Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy. As it is written, ‘Therefore I will praise You among the Gentiles, and I will sing praise to Your name.’ Again it says, ‘Rejoice, you Gentiles, with His people!’ And again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples praise Him!’ And again, Isaiah says, ‘The root of Jesse will appear, the One who rises to rule the Gentiles; the Gentiles will hope in Him.’ Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 15:7-13)
Paul has prayed for the unity and harmony of the church, and now instructs them one more time to welcome each other as Christ has welcomed them. He is commanding believers to fully accept and include other Christians in community with themselves, including those who disagree strongly about what is and is not permitted. He is commanding us to set our Christ-won freedoms aside, if necessary, to build up the church. Why would we do this? In the end, it is all to add to God’s glory.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (v 13) Paul’s end to this prayer is a powerful statement about what God can do in the heart and mind of every Christian. Paul asks that the God of hope fill believers with all joy and peace as we trust in Him.
In other words, Paul isn’t asking God to simply dump joy and peace into our hearts without cause. He’s asking that as we trust in God, our faith will bring joy and peace to our hearts, which will help us to continue to believe so that we can continue to experience joy and peace. “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.” (2 Thess 2:16-17)