A Wisdom Sampler

The overall insight is that words are very, very important. They can win us favor or they can consume us. So, we must be careful and thoughtful about our words. That means that we will use fewer of them and seek to have the words that we do use reflect biblical values and priorities. Our words should be used to glorify God and to be a blessing to other people.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

Suffering for the Sake of Christ

The call of the gospel is a call to embrace a life of suffering due to persecution. It is assumed that all followers of Christ will be persecuted to some extent and being willing to experience that suffering is an essential part of the response to the gospel as it is presented in the New Testament. That is explicit and unmistakable in Jesus’ call to follow him. “[W]however does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” To follow Jesus is to follow a Saviour and a Lord who was a magnet for persecution and the assumption is that his followers will be as well.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

The Under-Valuing of Wisdom

The truth behind all of this is that how we live matters to God and not only the big things, but also how we deal with angry bosses or dull axes. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and one of the fruits of wisdom is that you sharpen your axe instead of hacking away with a dull axe. Sharpening your axe is pleasing to God. Acting like a fool is not even when it comes to cutting down trees.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

The Meaning of the Fourth Commandment (5) Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath

Jesus’ intention is wonderfully expressed in Mark’s version of this story, where Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” What a wonderful sentiment is expressed in those words! The Sabbath is a gift. It is intended to be a day of joy and rest focused on the worship of God. It was never intended to be a burden. The Pharisees had made it such, but Jesus condemned that approach and as the Lord of the Sabbath gave us his authoritative interpretation.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

The Meaning of the Fourth Commandment (4) Rest for Everyone

The Fourth Commandment is a transition between the first table of the law which is focused on our duty toward God and the second table of the law which is focused on our duty towards our fellow human beings. It requires that we set a day apart for the worship of God, but it also requires that the people who work for us and the weaker members of society share in the blessings of the Sabbath. The concern is that those who have the money and the power to have other people working for them, do not require those people to work for them on the Sabbath day. So the Sabbath is both about our duty towards God and our duty towards other people.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

Personal Greetings and Final Remarks

Read: Romans 16

The letter closes with a reminder of the strength that God gives to his people through the gospel. We are involved in the great struggle between God and Satan and good and evil. That great struggle is both inside of us and all around us. The good news is that God strengthens his people – he brings about the obedience of faith. The struggle is real. The struggle is hard. But God in Christ gives the strength to persevere and to overcome and he brings about the obedience of faith. That is the encouragement.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

Encouragement, Harmony and Concluding Remarks

Read: Romans 15

The Christian life is profoundly corporate. We live in a time that is profoundly individualistic, but that is very much contrary to the teaching and the emphasis and the concern of the Scriptures and of the gospel. Being a believer in Jesus has an individual aspect to it that is vital, of course. We must believe as individuals and we must have a personal relationship with the Lord. But from a biblical perspective it is never just about me and Jesus. By believing in Jesus we become members of his body and that had huge implications for the nature of the Christian life.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

The Strong and the Weak

Read: Romans 14

This chapter deals with a very specific way of treating one other with love within the Christian community. The different opinions that are under consideration are not equally valid. One is right, and the other is wrong. Paul uses the distinction between some who are strong and others who are weak in this chapter. The opinions of the strong in this chapter of objectively correct while the opinions of the weak are objectively incorrect. But at the same time the differences of opinion are not over things that are part of core-orthodoxy or core-morality.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra