God’s Gifts of Patience and Comfort

Advent 2 Sunday

Romans 15:5-6

“Yet may the God of patience and comfort give you that you may be of one mind among one another according to Jesus Christ, so that you may with one voice unanimously praise God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This is prayer by which St. Paul concludes his letter after he has finished his preaching and teaching. It pertains to defects of faith and of life, but chiefly to the first defect, that of faith, as we shall see. Yet let no one presume to have patience and comfort of Scripture, Romans 15:4, out of his own powers. Paul indicates by this prayer that these are God’s gifts we should obtain by asking. We have even less the power to bear one another’s defects, Romans 15:1, and be unanimous concerning the faith with others. This is why he says here: “God of patience and comfort,” that is, this God is a Master and gives this patience and comfort. Just as he is a God of heaven and earth, so he also is a God of patience comfort: they are all his gifts and creatures. “May he give it to you,” says he, because you do not have it out of yourselves. If he gives it, it is not a natural property but is grace and gift. For if he does not give a pertinent verse into the heart, the heart never finds it. In fact, where he does not grant it, people leave Scripture behind and run after the philosophers, as happened in the condemned schools. Yet where he gives the grace that Scripture is sought out, there he gives also patience and comfort. Therefore, there is not greater wrath of God than when he lets perish his Word and Scripture. It is,
then, not in vain that the apostle here asks for the very thing. Again, there is not greater grace than where God raises up his Word and lets it be read. Thus, we well should pray this prayer with the apostle, “That you may be of one mind among one another.” What does this mean? How can the weak and the strong, Romans 15:1, be one mind? This means that each should leave the other his opinion and consider good what the other considers good. For the opinion is the head of all factions, sects, discord, and heresy, as we say: Everyone likes his own way; this is why the land is full of fools. Paul wants to abolish here having one’s own opinion and one’s own pleasure. For nothing is more pernicious to the Christian faith and church than this opinion: It cannot help but do things its own way and leave the common way behind to start its own thing that it finds pleasing. From this arose so many factions and so many differences in outward
garb in the church. No one wants to be of one mind with the other, but each takes pleasure in his own way and despises the way of the others. Thus, the apostle here desires that they should be one mind and each please the other. How? The weak consciences should consider best what the strong and healthy consciences observe, so that their faith, conscience, and opinion be one, lest they argue with one another, one considering this to be the best, the other that. In this way, Psalm 68:6 should apply to them: “God makes it so that there is unanimity in the house,” and Psalm 133:1, “See how delightful and good it is when brothers dwell together unanimously in the house.”…Again, if the weak believers do not want to follow, let the strong believers not force them to do so or despise them, but let them consider it well and good until the weak become strong as well.

St. Louis ed. 12:35-37.

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