Romans 15:25-29: Paul the Church Ambassador
What is driving you, when you feel tired in the morning and don’t feel like getting up what do you tell yourself to get yourself going? What are you living for? Are you functioning according to a deliberate motivation or a default autopilot? Some are driven by a desire to provide for their families; some are driven by a career goal; some are fixed on their retirements; some have sinful goals, some have godly goals. All of our doing flows out of our wanting. We do what we want. Paul is a man of ambition, he has just told us that in v20. He is a man of deep desires, someone who is not just drifting along, but fixed on his goals, and his whole life reflects it. In fact Paul is driven by what he is living for that he is willing to even die in pursuing it. Where many of us get caught up in the routine of our lives forgetting the war we are in and the purposes God has called us to, Paul is deliberate and constantly planning his course on the basis of his desires. Today we come to another major motivation in Paul’s life, something that is called, ‘the collection’ in Pauline studies. Dominating Paul’s third missionary journey was Paul’s coordination of the Gentile churches to give liberally to the poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. This concern is also revealed in his travel plans in Romans 15:25-29, ‘At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints.26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you.29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.’
In our portion we see three of Paul’s major motivations. He has spoken about his desire to visit Rome in order to bless the church. Paul has a deep care and concern for the local church and its health. But that is not all; we have also looked at Paul’s focus on those who are unreached for the gospel and the priority that he gives to them. Here Paul reveals another thing that lies heavy on his heart; the collection of money from the Gentiles to give to the poor saints in the Jerusalem church. As we look at this section we will be dividing it in two looking firstly at why Paul was engaged in this venture seeking to understand what was driving him and how that shapes our own hearts today. Secondly, we want to look at how the Gentiles gave and what instruction we can receive from them.