In this brief passage of Scripture, we see quickly at least four reasons why Paul the Apostle was a successful, happy Christian.
PAUL WAS A THANKFUL CHRISTIAN: Romans 1:8
Thanksgiving is a wonderful Christian grace (Eph. 5:20; Phil. 4:6-7; Rom. 7:25; 2 Cor. 2:14). Paul had many things to be thankful for: food and necessities (Acts 27:35; Rom. 14:6), Christ (2 Cor. 9:15), souls saved (Rom. 6:17), and victory over sin (Rom. 7:25). But in our study, Paul is thankful for the Roman believers (Rom. 1:8) because they had a good testimony of Christian conduct and soul-winning activity throughout the Roman world, so much so that “their faith” was spoken of. What a challenge for every believer and local church! I’m sure there were some churches which gave little or no cause for joy or thanksgiving (Heb. 13:17; 2 Cor. 13:2).
PAUL WAS A SERVING CHRISTIAN: Romans 1:9a
Many Christians are not serving Christians either because they are “babes” in Christ or “carnal” or both (1 Cor. 3:1; Heb. 5:12-14). As such, these Christians needed to get straightened out with God and grow (1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18).
The fact that Paul served God “with his spirit” implies several things. (1) That he was saved! Man, before he is saved, is dead spiritually (Eph. 2:15). At the moment of salvation he experiences a “spiritual rebirth” (Jn. 3:6). With a revived human spirit he has capacity to serve God (Jn. 4:23). The believer is saved to serve (2 Cor. 5:15; Heb. 9:14. (2) That he was a mature Christian! Bible doctrine that is understood and stored in the human spirit (Rom. 8:16; 1 Cor. 2:11-16; Eph. 3:16-20). It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to store knowledge from which the Holy Spirit helps the believer make application of Bible doctrine in Christian service for the production of fruit (Eph. 4:20-32). (3) That he was serving the Lord with enthusiasm and heart (Col. 3:23)! And, He was serving the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s service did not depend upon his being aroused by music, oratory, architecture, asceticism, ritual, emotion or rhetoric (Zech. 4:6; 1 Cor. 2:4).
PAUL WAS A PRAYING CHRISTIAN: Romans 1:9b-10
Paul prayed about many things. His ministry was characterized by prayer and “bathed” in prayer. Paul prayed for the salvation of the lost (Rom. 10:1; 2 Cor. 5:20), for people to live holy, worthy lives (2 Cor. 13:7; 2 Thess. 1:1), and for direction (Acts 13:3). He prayed in adversity (Acts 16:25), for the well being of believers (Acts 20:36; 21:5; Col. 1:9; Phil. 1:4), and Paul prays for the believers in Rome (Paul may have had a prayer list because in Romans 16 he mentions 27 by name and also others not named).
And then, Paul prays for himself. (1) To come to Rome (vs. 10a); (2) To have a safe trip (vs. 10a); (3) To impart spiritual blessing to the Roman believers (vs. 11); (4) To have fellowship (vs. 12); and to have fruit (vs. 13).
PAUL WAS A SUBMISSIVE CHRISTIAN: Romans 1:10b
Paul also is careful to pray according to the will of God (vs. 10b; also Jas. 4:3, 14). It is important that we pray according to God’s will (1 Jn. 5:14). It might be well to note, at this point, the mechanics of submission.
- We must exercise our will to do His will (Heb. 5:14; Phil. 2:13).
- We must be willing to do His will even before we know what it is (Jn. 7:17, cf. Rom. 8:28).
- We must know how to prove the will of God for our lives. This is taught in Romans 12:1-2 as follows: (1) We must present our bodies (Rom. 12:1, cf., 1 Cor. 6:20; 2 Cor. 5:15); (2) We must not be conformed to this world (Rom. 22:2a), cf., 1 Jn. 2:15-16 for what worldliness is); and (3) We must renew our minds by the daily intake of the Word (Rom. 12:2b, cf., Phil. 4:7-8). We will never be blessed or have peace and sweet rest until all on the altar we lay!
Can you imagine what a difference it would make around your home, job or church if these four characteristics were present? What kind of change would there be in your life if they were a part of your Christian attitude?