At my financial planning firm, we like to challenge our clients to answer the question: What is the money for? The answer that most disappoints me is: “I’m not going to live that long.” That is not a life plan; it is a death plan. If you feel that way, then the book of Ecclesiastes is for you.
Chronology of the post exile: Ezra-Nehemiah
Compare Romans 16, Paul’s conclusion of his letter to the Christians in Rome, to a high school yearbook. During the high school years, we are supposed to learn skills, knowledge, and an approach to life that will get us launched into adulthood. The book of Romans also records truths that should be foundational building blocks for life, the essentials upon which we ought to build our lives. The high school yearbook is the history of the events, ideas, and accomplishments that took place during the year, but it also contains a collection of handwritten names, greetings, memories, and thoughts about life. We find at the end of the book of Romans some very personal words, too.
Paul closes Romans as he began, with a personal word about himself and the church in Rome. Reflecting on his life so far and where God will take him next, Paul discusses two themes: 1) the situation of church at Rome, and 2) the future of his ministry. As you study Romans 15, you might want to compare what Paul says to your own church and ministry.
Have you ever noticed, how much easier it is much easier to destroy something beautiful and worthy than to build it? Building up and tearing down is at the heart of Romans 14-15. Paul’s going to encourage us to build each other up and remind us that this building takes a lot longer to accomplish, than does tearing down.