Series: Family Privilege
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Don Pate
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Vanessa Rivera
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 11:1-36 in the New International Version (NIV).
Reflect: “Boast not. . . .” That’s the command (Romans 11:18). Now this is where I make the “command” a little more demanding.
If you have background in Christianity, as soon as I use the term “Pharisee,” what happens inside you? Let me make a prediction—your sense of judgmentalism immediately kicks into gear. (If that’s not true, then you are unlike 98% of your fellow Christians, I think.)
We are all pretty well programmed to be very, very critical of the Pharisees. I get it. But an honest reading of the text (and of ourselves) might cause us to pump the brakes on that reaction. Consider the following:
The man who wrote this passage was a Pharisee.
There were Pharisees in the Gospels who were absolutely noble. Nicodemus and Gamaliel come to mind. There were others too.
If you understood how Pharisaism came into existence, you’d realize that many of us would have taken exactly the same course as they did. It was a perfectly logical response to the history of disobedience leading to captivity.
“Boast not!” Our Lord commanded that we be very slow in our judgments. Paul is not proclaiming some radical new response here. He’s just calling us to be cautious with regard to our potential arrogance. He’s reminding us that we are under the same obligations as Israel was—and maybe more—because we have the model of Jesus to show us how to live and serve this God.
Consider these words: “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). Who has been given more, Israel of old or Christians today?
Recalibrate: Are any of us immune to self-righteousness? If you’re honest, what people are the targets of your own version of holier-than-thou?
Respond: Oh Lord, you know our tendency to minimize others in order to elevate ourselves. Please forgive and grow us.
Research: It would be appropriate here to invite you to revisit John 3:1-21 at this juncture. Remember, the first audience for this gem was a Pharisee.
Remember: “So I ask, has God abandoned His people? Certainly not!” (Romans 11:1, KNT).
Don Pate is a veteran of ministry, including teaching (seventh grade through college), pastoring, publishing, and radio/television ministry. Now officially retired, he still remains engaged in creative ministry—teaching and preaching nearly every weekend somewhere. But he mostly is increasingly astonished at the generosity of Christ that has allowed him to continue to be the most unworthy servant of the Kingdom.
Parents can sometimes be guilty of boasting about their child. How many hours they sleep at night, what foods they eat, how their vocabulary is at child-genius level, how early they took their first steps, etc. Paul warns us against boasting. Galatians 6:14 tells us to not boast in ourselves, but to boast in Jesus. Make a list out loud with your child about the great things that Jesus has done.
Do you know what boasting is? Boasting is when all someone can do is talk about how good or important they are. It can be kind of annoying if all someone ever does is talk about themselves, right? Have you ever been guilty of boasting? Maybe you won a game or you did something really good and you just couldn’t stop telling people about it. Today, make a sign cheering someone else on. Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on cheering for others!
Have you heard about the way Israel was saved and thought that it seemed mysterious? When I hear about mysteries, I think about a murder that is yet to be solved due to the detective not having all the clues or facts. The Greek word for mystery is mustērion. When used in the New Testament, it means that God has something special He wants to reveal to those who want to know more. God doesn’t want to make the way of salvation too complicated for us to understand. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, there were so many questions on doctrine, on what the church believes. So what is this mystery? That God wants to save Jews and Gentiles. Paul is making sure that separation between groups doesn’t create animosity but that it somehow builds into love for each other. There is an equal playing field for everyone. Have you ever felt like God’s grace shouldn’t be extended to everyone? That maybe there should be certain exceptions or limitations? Rejoice in the fact that we are all included!