In Romans 1:1-7, Paul calls himself “a devoted slave.” While Roman society looked down upon slaves, it was an honor to be called a slave of God in the Old Testament. It was, is, and always will be a gift to serve Him.
‘I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim God’s words and acts. I write this letter to all the believers in Rome, God’s friends. The sacred writings contain preliminary reports by the prophets on God’s Son. His descent from David roots him in history; his unique identity as Son of God was shown by the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead, setting him apart as the Messiah, our Master. Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus. You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ! And I greet you now with all the generosity of God our Father and our Master Jesus, the Messiah.” (The Message)
Verses three and four are a chorus familiar to Paul’s audience. He has a lot to sing about, and so do I. Paul puts his focus upon God’s glory shown in Jesus Christ. When I do the same, I find the joy he has. The chorus reminds me of the sweet gift of Immanuel. It is “the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus.” The key words are “obedient trust.” I must have it or I cannot pass His gift along. Entering into obedience is what receiving His gift is all about. His life is a very generous gift that I take for granted far too often.
I am who I am through His generous gift and His call. Paul knew we are all called by Christ. Our talents are different, but we can receive and pass along His gift to others. In a season that celebrates His birth, let’s put our attention and energy toward His gift and not worry so much about all the other gifts we get and give in the coming week. It’s easy to get lost in all those brightly colored packages and forget that God has a better gift in mind.
Last week, I had my heart set on something I really wanted and was disappointed when I didn’t get it. I found that God had something much better in mind. Even little Lillyann knows to ask Santa Claus for what he thinks is best. The lessons this week reminded me to do the same with God. I had a little trinket and a special moment in mind, but He gave me a beautiful tapestry that was more than I could have imagined on my own. Spoiled children get just what they want, and I’m sure they always will. I learned this week to thank God for not giving me what I want and to let Him give me what He knows is best for me. There is a reason spoiled children are never happy. They don’t know what they want. I am the same way when I don’t let go of my selfish wants and trust God to give the better gift He has for me.