In this life, we will experience suffering. Paul is encouraging believers to trust God through suffering because suffering will produce endurance, character, and hope.
This chapter begins to explore the meaning of life once we are redeemed by the grace of God through faith, and stand in the presence of God’s infinite grace. Now what do we do? Now how do we live?
Paul answers by saying we ought to live in a way to bring glory to God as well as glory or praise from God (verse 2). The opportunity for the amazing reward of gaining not only God’s grace, which is given freely and without obligation, but also God’s approval, glory from God, gives us reason to exult in our tribulations (rejoice in sufferings).
Suffering for Jesus in time brings about perseverance, which God rewards greatly. Considering the opportunity to demonstrate God’s glory by living a resurrected life, we can rejoice in sufferings (Romans 6:4).
In light of the imminent return of Jesus in his glory to reward us according to our deeds, we rejoice in suffering for Jesus (Matthew 16:24-27). Suffering rejection from men to gain praise from God will be more than worth it. It is notable that the first thing Paul turns to when answering “Now what?” after we understand our redemption in Jesus, is to explain that exercising faith through suffering is a great opportunity, and something we should expect. Happiness is something we can choose, and God’s Spirit gives us the gift of joy, but circumstances will bring suffering in this world. The Spirit gives us the power to choose a perspective that embraces suffering as an opportunity.
Paul continues the thought regarding how we should look at suffering in this life. Exercising faith while suffering not only glorifies God and gains glory from God, it also shapes who we are as people. Consistent faithfulness through the difficult circumstances of life produces endurance, and perseverance, proven character. So, what are we supposed to focus on in life once we stand in the grace of God, basking in God’s unconditional acceptance and our complete redemption (verses 1-2)? We are to focus on growing our character. When we receive the grace of God through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, we become a new creation in Christ. Who we are is a matter of new birth. Who we become is a matter of whom we obey.
Who we become by faith in this life has an immense impact on our experience in this life – whether or not that experience brings us fulfillment. Because God’s grace is independent of what we do, how we live does not affect our acceptance by God. However, the choices we make in how we live has everything to do with who we become and what we experience. If we become all God intends for us, God promises rewards that go beyond our imagination (1 Corinthians 2:9). God will always accept us, because of our position in Christ, but how we live our life determines God’s approval of us.
Paul continues his thought regarding what we should do in life once we stand in the grace of God (forgiven and redeemed by God’s grace). When we walk in faith it is almost inevitable that we will experience shame from the world. In fact, a substantial portion of suffering can take the form of rejection, if we refuse to participate in the ways of the world. Living by faith produces proven character; and proven character, hope. The love of God poured forth into our hearts through God’s Spirit counters the shame of the world. The world is very good at using shame to control and enslave us, but the power of God’s Spirit overcomes that shame and allows us to walk in freedom from the bondage of sin.
“Spirit” appears 28 times in Romans; this is the first mention of the Spirit being given to us as a gift when we believe in Jesus. Walking in the power of the Spirit will be a major theme of what life should look like after we believe.
The hope we gain when we walk in faith is the opposite of shame, hope does not disappoint. We can be confident that walking in the power of the Spirit will bring us praise from God. On the other hand, if we continue in sin after being redeemed by Jesus’ blood and are standing in grace (verse 1), we will most assuredly experience shame before Jesus. The Apostle Peter gives us a tangible example of the stinging rebuke of shame he experienced when he denied knowing Jesus. That did not in any way cause Jesus to reject Peter; God never rejects His children. Because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. The Greek verb translated “poured out” is in the perfect tense, meaning that God’s love is poured out completely, with ongoing effects. We are fully loved by Him, and that love continues to cover us. Although God does discipline His children, it is an act of love, for God always has our best interest at heart.
3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us
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