I am finishing up preparations to preach at Redeemer this Sunday on Romans 1:14-17. Paul writes (in verse 14) that he feels obligated to share the gospel with the people of Rome. Obligated. There’s a bit of a negative connotation in that word. Poor Paul. He feels obligated. Those lucky Romans! Yet in the next verse, he says that he is eager to come.
How can he feel both obligated and eager?
As I think about the opportunity and need for gospel ministry in Orangeburg… as I think about coming alongside those who are already serving there… I have a deep sense of obligation to go, to serve, to preach, and to live there. God has given us a message that we must share. He has given us gifts that we must use.
But am I eager?
Honestly, this is where it gets tough. Sometimes the obligation weighs heavier than the eagerness. In this letter to his future mission field, Paul expresses eagerness that flows out of his vital faith in Jesus through the gospel. Paul writes, “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome for I am not ashamed of the gospel.” His eagerness flows out of his absolute trust in Jesus. His obligation is not a burden because it is an obligation to share the free grace of God with people who need to hear. The gospel had been explosive in Paul’s own life. It transformed an aggressive sinner into a forgiven and righteous man eager to give his life away. The grace of God empowered Paul to approach his obligation with patience, prayerfulness, and yes, with eager expectation!
Even as I have prepared my sermon this week, my faith is being renewed by a fresh look at God’s grace for me in Jesus. My apathy and unbelief are covered by Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I am not living out of my own strength, but by God’s grace, I am walking by faith.