These chapters of Romans are great conversation starters. What about a conversation about God's sovereignty? It will, at some point, reference chapter nine, if not begin with the chapter. Israel and eschatology? Can’t ignore chapters ten and eleven. Who is a true Christian? Chapter twelve must be considered. The place of government in our lives? Likely, the key text is right here in chapter thirteen. Christian freedom? Is it OK to eat and drink certain things? Of course, according to chapter fourteen, all things are OK, unless the food or drink causes a brother to stumble. The urgency of missions? Paul’s personal testimony just nails us with the urgency to take the gospel to the world. And of course, there are the final warnings and encouragements of the last chapter.
As I think about Paul’s counsel, along with all the rest of God’s Word, it comes to me (nothing new or novel here, just a reminder) that our problem (certainly, mine) is not a failure of knowledge or a lack of good, clear direction. Rather, the challenge is to have an open ear and heart and mind to what God says to me. He has given me what I need to know in order to please him and to live a life of obedience and righteousness. Years ago, Nancy Reagan had a slogan against drug use: “Just say no!” Maybe a variation and a good word for us: Just say yes! That is, “Yes!” to all God that instructs us.
Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise,
let them flow in endless praise. -- Frances R. Havergal (1874)