Scripture: Romans 13-1-14
Observation: Paul begins by addressing the importance of submitting to governmental authorities. He shares that we fulfill the requirements of God’s law when we love others well. Finally, he tells us that the day of salvation will soon be here, so we must focus on doing good and reflecting the love of Jesus wherever we go. He tells us to turn away from “dark deeds” and put on the “shining armor of right living,” living within the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Application: As teenagers, there was something about nighttime that made us brave and defiant. Under the cover of darkness, we could get away with more, couldn’t we? When would we sneak out of our parent’s house, go to wild parties, and make poor life decisions? Nighttime, nighttime, and nighttime/all the time. (Let’s blame that last one on our 15-year-old brains not being fully developed.) The cover of darkness let us hide. Things we wouldn’t dare do during the day, we would risk doing at night when we couldn’t be seen as easily.
The dark can be dangerous.
Paul’s tone is so urgent here. Read verses 11 and 12 again:
“This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is: time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here.”
The night is almost gone, which means its time to live in the light, to remove all of our “dirty deeds.” There are so many types of dirty deeds that plague our lives; Paul names a few at the end of verse 13: wild parties, drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, immoral living, quarreling, jealousy. These things (and so many others) that we try to hide, cover up, and ignore are the very things that destroy us. Hidden during the nighttime, we give these things permission to live, to grow, to thrive. We must be stronger than these things. Paul tells us we must remove them like dirty clothes and replace them with the shining armor of right living. And the good news is, we can. Through faith in Jesus, the darkness has no hold on us. We belong to the Lord, and we belong to the day.
Paul is saying: Live like your life is on display. Clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord. If you assume that others see Jesus when they look at you, what kind of Jesus do they see? Are you representing him well, living a life full of confident humility, patience, and love? Or are you letting the temptation of darkness and dirty deeds destroy you slowly?
The fact that as a follower of Jesus, I represent him to others, is overwhelming to me. The Jesus I know is so incredibly patient. He was so tenderhearted yet tough. He was full of love and grace and second chances. He was perfect. Most days, it seems like I’m so far from all of that.
Yet, I still represent him. You do, too. That thought changes everything, doesn’t it? Because I want others to see Jesus as patient, loving, gracious, just, which means I have to constantly strive to be a person who is patient, loving, gracious, just.
It’s going to take a lot of work. We’re going to have to constantly fend off our selfish desires, our pride. We’re going to have to suppress evil desires. We’re going to have to do what’s right even when it seems impossible. But, it’s worth it. Because as we live more and more in the light, we are able to bring glory and honor to the name of our King, Lord Jesus Christ.
I can think of no better purpose than that.
Prayer: God, it is overwhelming to think I can somehow represent you to others. I know I’m so unworthy, but I pray you’ll fill me with your patience and grace so that I can live as a child of the light and bring glory and honor to your name. Amen.