To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints…
The words “to be” were not contained in the original manuscript. Therefore this passage should read “called saints”, not “called to be saints”. You might say, “Wait a minute, I’m no saint.” A saint is not one who, as the dictionary defines: “after death is formally designated as having led a life of exceptional holiness.” Rather the Biblical definition is anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as his or her personal savior. It is not your behavior that makes you a saint; it is your faith and trust in Jesus.
Our passage today starts with the words: “To all in Rome who are loved by God”. What a wonderful beginning point — to be loved by God. 1 John 4:19 tells us, “We love because he first loved us.” Christian musician Cheri Keaggy wrote about her album released in 2007: “I wanted to call the album, ‘Because He First Loved Us’, because it’s solid. It’s the whole reason I sing. I believe I John 4:19 is a verse that resonates with the Church. We know the world is watching to see if this religion thing is real. How do we treat each other? Does our faith repel the lost or does it attract them to Jesus? Do we love unselfishly even when it’s not convenient or easy? Christ did. And He empowers us to do the same.”
For me that’s what “being a saint” means: Loving even when it’s difficult or inconvenient — not because I’m a great person, but because He loved me first and empowers me to do the same. Well said Cheri.
We are called saints but is our behavior saintly? Is God’s love for us fully expressed in our lives? It is easy to love our family and friends, but what about that irritating co-worker who sits across from you, who is always on the phone with personal matters while you’re hard at work? And how about the guy who stole the parking spot you were waiting for at the grocery store — then laughed at you? How easy are those people to love? If you are anything like me — they are hard to love. But God calls us to love them anyway because He loved us first. He loved me despite all of my faults; I guess I could try a little harder to love others. What about you?