A Heart for God

Opening Prayer

Spirit of God, line up my life to Your way of living. Make me like You.

Read Romans 2:17–29

17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

Reflect

Do you show outward signs of faith—do you wear a cross or display a sticker on your car perhaps? What reaction do you get?

By the time the Romans had finished reading these verses, I’m sure that they would have felt as though they had been spun around, turned upside down and hung out to dry.
They are now being told that circumcision, which the Jews would pride themselves on as an outward sign of faith, is of little value if it is not followed up by lifestyle (25). It has to be of the heart as well as the flesh (29). Paul gives a detailed picture of the privileges a Jew might have, but they are only valid if they practice what they preach. And it seems some of them are falling far short in this respect.
How would the Jews react to Paul’s words? Would they bluster, then go away, reflect and see the sense of them? Or would they be harder nuts to crack? We sometimes reach our most valid conclusions when we have initially fought against something. The penny can drop out of the blue, as it did with Paul on the Damascus road. But probably more often it takes time before we let the reality of Jesus break down our barriers, and become more like him and the person he wants us to be.

Apply

Does your lifestyle match your words? How can you live out loud for Jesus this week?

Closing prayer

Lord, remind me that however I appear outwardly, it is the state of my heart that You are interested in.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider