Five Minute Devotions: Romans 10
Paul’s impassioned plea to his fellow Jews continues in chapter 10, as he reiterates his passion for his people and his desire that they come to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. In verse 2, Paul hits upon the exact problem of the Jewish people:
For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.
He recognizes the Jewish search for God. He recognizes the Jewish attempt to serve God and please him. He recognizes that the Jewish religious system—the Pharisees and teachers of the law and Saducees and priests and so on—that, while perhaps misguided and driven by improper motivations, were truly searching for that which Paul had.
That’s what makes Paul’s anguish so palpable. He has the answers! They’re drowning, Paul has thrown them the rope leading to safety, and they are refusing to take it. They continue to swim for their salvation, to do it their own way without help from others.
Right Intentions | Wrong Applications
We’ve all met people who have the right intentions with improper applications. They are sincere in their desires, but the way in which those desires are expressed don’t line up correctly. They’re seeking after God, they’re running after God, they want purpose and meaning in their lives, they desire to know God…and they’re running the wrong way.
They’re seeking fulfillment through sexual experiences or corporate success. They hope to find joy through the bottle or the needle. They’re seeking for ultimate meaning from their relationships or their careers. They’re defining their self-worth by their bank account or their wardrobe or their number of Instagram followers.
They have passion and zeal, it just isn’t rooted in knowledge. What Paul does in chapter 9, 10, and 11 is lay out this foundation for sharing the Gospel with these kinds of people, of using their own beliefs to bring them to the narrow way.
Points of Commonality
In three chapters, Paul quotes the Old Testament 35 times. Why? Because the Jewish people would accept the Old Testament, the Tanakh, as authoritative. He begins with the system they believe in to show how it points to the system they should believe in. He uses these points of commonality to draw his Jewish friends closer to Jesus. He uses a cultural connection to try to turn his wrong-way runners onto the right path.
In doing so, he models for us a method of ministry. Find those points of commonality in those around you. What are their goals? Their definition of success? What are they looking for? Hoping for? Use that to show them how what they are seeking is ultimately found and fulfilled in the person of Jesus.