It is good to focus on the positive words that we find in Scripture, but in doing so we must not be blind to the concerns that arise and threaten to distract the community of those following Christ. As Paul concludes his letter to the Romans, after writing of all the foundations to a true faith and the way of life in that faith, he then finds it necessary to write, “I appeal to you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, for by smooth talk and flattery they deceive …” (verse 18).

Judas Iscariot served himself while giving an outward appearance of following Christ. If we find ourselves doing the same thing let us follow Paul’s advice, “… I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil” (verse 19). In the previous chapter we read “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (verse 13). Note the emphasis on hope. How much do we need a real hope in our hearts today, a hope that creates “all joy and peace” as we face the challenges of godlessness that abounds; we must develop a sense of commitment so that we can avoid distractions.

What total commitment Jeremiah must have had: so many enemies, efforts to put him to death (26:11). But God saw to it that Jeremiah had some support. He was God’s mouthpiece for warning the people about God’s impending judgements. How effective are we in doing that? Do we feel weak? That seems natural, we do not have the direct contact with God that Jeremiah experienced, but we do have the full revelation of His purpose in the 66 books of the Bible.

Let us take special note of Paul’s final words; “Now unto him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel … according to the command of the eternal God to bring about obedience of faith – to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen”. May we so live that we witness that coming glory.