I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. (Romans 15:14)
From this point through the end of the chapter we see a lot of Paul’s philosophy of ministry. He expresses things that are revealing in how he spreads the gospel. How does a single person like Paul plant so many churches in so many places while at the same time taking gifts to the poor in Jerusalem and writing chapters upon chapters of Scripture? There are numerous things here, beginning with verse 14. Paul had never been to Rome and yet he was ‘convinced’ that the believers there were ‘full of goodness.’ He was confident that they were ‘complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.’ How did he know?
Some of this was by reputation (Romans 1:8) but a lot of it was because of how Paul understood the church. He could plant churches, establish elders/leaders there pretty quickly and move on to the next unreached people group because he knew that the people were good, complete in knowledge and competent!
How many people long to hear those words? How many would be encouraged to hear that they are competent in their ministry? That they can do it! That we have every confidence in them?
In verses 15-16 more light is shed on Paul’s perspective. First we see how he saw his own ministry: graced by God to serve with the ‘priestly duty’ of proclaiming the Gospel. His preaching produced believers in Christ who made up the new Church which was an ‘offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.’ Paul had such confidence in this new church that he had never met because he knew that the Spirit of God was sanctifying these people and that local church. The Spirit of Jesus was engaged in their lives making them ‘complete in knowledge.’ He didn’t need to do it, the Spirit was.
In our current church culture it takes months or years for someone to be confirmed as a leader. We won’t let them teach others for the longest of times! How will we multiply disciples, leaders, small groups and churches this way? We won’t! We need to have the same confidence that Paul had, that those who are redeemed and filled with the Spirit of Christ are good, complete and competent to do life and ministry.
Lord Jesus, forgive me for every time that I did not trust You with Your own people. You’ve called me to shepherd them, not constrain them. You’ve called me to encourage them, not pen them up because I’m afraid fo where they might wander off to. When they wander, that’s when shepherds are the most needed! Please give me the insight into Your power and grace when it comes to Your church. How do you want us to live and represent You? Thank You for letting me serve You this day.