1What good is it to be a Jew? What good is it to be circumcised? 2It is good in a lot of ways! First of all, God's messages were spoken to the Jews. 3It is true that some of them did not believe the message. But does this mean that God cannot be trusted, just because they did not have faith? 4 No, indeed! God tells the truth, even if everyone else is a liar. The Scriptures say about God,
will be proven true,
and in court
you will win your case.”
5If our evil deeds show how right God is, then what can we say? Is it wrong for God to become angry and punish us? What a foolish thing to ask. 6But the answer is, “No.” Otherwise, how could God judge the world? 7Since your lies bring great honor to God by showing how truthful he is, you may ask why God still says you are a sinner. 8You might as well say, “Let's do something evil, so that something good will come of it!” Some people even claim that we are saying this. But God is fair and will judge them as well.
The Jews believed they were the chosen people, and that God had blessed them by revealing himself to them. Yet when they read here what Paul was saying to them about their traditions they must have thought that he was making light of all they held as precious.
Paul anticipates this criticism. He assures them he is not discrediting all that God has done for them. But the point he is making here is different. It is not what they have received in their tradition that counts, but how they live.
They had failed to be “a light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 49:6). Does that mean that God had failed? And if the evil they did highlighted how just God is, wouldn’t that bring glory to God and so be a good thing?
Perish the thought, says Paul. Of course the Jews were privileged. And of course God has not failed. It will take him the rest of this letter to explain how God’s purposes had from the beginning included both Jews and Gentiles.
He begins by pointing out that God’s messages were first spoken to the Jews. They had in their Law a record of what God had revealed – of who he was, and of what he expected of his people. If they had failed to keep his requirements, that was not God’s fault but theirs.
Jesus had something to say about this. “If God has been generous with you, he will expect you to serve him well. But if he has been more than generous, he will expect you to serve him even better” (Luke 12:48 CEV).
If you’ve had a Christian upbringing, belong to a good church, and know the Scriptures you are indeed blessed. But realize this, that God will “expect you to serve him even better.”
Thank you, Lord, for the many good things you have blessed me with. Help me to be responsible in how I use them. Help me to be a “light” to the world around me, living in obedience to what you have taught me, and doing it with humility, so that people may see Jesus Christ in my life. For his sake, Amen.