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;Romans 2: 17-18
Ok, I understand that this is an overtly Christian blog. I realize that you very likely are not Jewish, especially if you have a great interest in studying the book of Romans from the New Testament. So, today’s verse may look a little funny. But we can clear things up right off the bat by recognizing that, in this context, Paul’s words apply well to any believer who follows the word of God–or claims to follow the word of God.
Think about the first sentence this way, “if you call yourself a Christian. . .”
All of these verses are building and building to a grand rhetorical question Paul is going to ask in a few verses, but it would be a little much to study all of those verses today. In the meantime, how do the rest of today’s verses describe you? Do you rely on the law (follow God’s word) and boast in God?
This concept of boasting in God is a little whacky, because when Paul talks about boasting in God, he essentially convicts us in two ways: 1. If you’re boasting in anything other than God, then you’re arrogant, conceited, and self-obsessed. And 2. If you’re not literally out and about boasting about God, then you’re not taking his gift of grace seriously enough.
I’ll give you an example for number two. Has anyone ever asked you something like, “why are you so happy today,” or “why are you such a happy person,” or “where do you get your strength from?” Are you tempted to give a slippery cop-out answer like, “Oh I dunno, good genes I guess.” ? I certainly have. But Paul is telling us today that we should take every opportunity to boast in God. If you’re happy: “Because Jesus gave me eternal life.” If you’re strong, “Because the Holy Spirit dwells in me.”
I understand that if you were to actually say these things to people, it might be a little weird. But do you think that Christians aren’t supposed to be a little weird? When you look around at so many people struggling to find peace, or purpose, or joy, or self-worth, don’t you think the Christian method should sound a little weird? Folks, what we’ve got is different. It’s weird. It takes the gnawing sense of hopelessness inside us and turns it on its head. It takes our longing for love and joy and fulfills it. Yes, it’s weird. But it’s also awesome. And when we get a chance to boast about it, we shouldn’t even look back.
Martin van Buren: “Now I won’t boast about my height. If you think you’re superior, just remember I’m president.”
This post is day 16 in a 31 day series about memorizing Romans 2. If you’d like to start at the beginning of Romans 2, please check out this post. Overall, this post is day 76 in a 366 day series. If you’d like, check out one of our “Getting Started” posts to learn more about our overall mission to memorize the book of Romans in one year.