Scripture Reading: Romans 11:17-21 (English Standard Version)
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree,
18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.
19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”
20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.
Thought for the day:
Today, we look at a summary of the position that Paul has painted on many occasions. These few verses, unlike so many others in Romans, are relatively easy to understand and apply.
I’m sure that you will have heard the phrase ‘Never forget where you came from.’ This is normally used when speaking to people who have hailed from modest backgrounds but have risen to some kind of exalted status such as wealth or celebrity. Generally it is spoken by those with a slight ‘chip on the shoulder’ who are trying to bring the person down a peg or two. The Welsh valleys are full of such people. Nothing irritates some people more than observing the success of others.
It is easy to look at our verses today and apply the same kind of thinking but I consider that to be a mistake. You make read the verses and assume that Paul is warning the Gentiles ‘to remember where you came from’. It could be said that the Gentiles are only where they are because of the Jews. That is true of course, but I think there’s something more going on in these verses. I believe that the key takeaway of our verses being studied today is a message about faith. The Jews were cut off because of their lack of faith. The Gentiles continue to be a part of the plan of God only because of faith. We are justified by faith and faith alone. It was for lack of faith that they were broken off, and it is by faith that we, as Gentiles stand. Faith, by very nature, excludes any form of boasting as we have discussed many times previously. There is no place for arrogance or even self-esteem. We sing songs like ‘I am who He says I am’ and rejoice in our identity in Christ. However, it is precisely the last part of the phrase that is so important. We are in Christ and this only happens through faith. There is a big difference between having self-esteem and fully appreciating what God is doing in our lives. The apostle Paul is warning us to be careful about where our trust and faith is placed. If it is in our position and our self-worth, then we are in danger of being ‘broken off’.
Prayer and Application:
I trust that our praise and worship is centred on Christ. He is the author and finisher of our faith. We are secure in Him and in Him alone.