Entitlement is a plague to maturity and social development. Just because someone has been gracious for a period does not mean that the benefactor is obligated to continue.
In today’s passage, we must identify who is the “they” and who is the “you.” Paul is describing God’s sovereign decision to choose the Gentiles of the world (“you”), and He has put aside “some” of His formerly chosen people, Israel (“they”): “If some of the branches were broken off [Israel], and you, being a wild olive tree [Gentiles], were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches” (Rom 11:17–18a).
Paul is teaching the first-century Gentiles that they are not entitled to the gospel but have been “grafted into” the blessings of God. It was because of God’s grace that He chose to spread the gospel among the Gentiles.
First, only “some” of Israel were broken off. God, as Paul expressed, is still reaching out to anyone who will believe—even Israel. Paul said, “I magnify my ministry [to the Gentiles] if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them [Israel]” (Rom 11:13–14).
God is always gracious to those willing to “stand by faith,” not trying to impress God with their goodness.
Second, God changes situations for His purposes. In the future, God will lift the “blindness in part [that] has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom 11:25), and then God will turn His focus to His chosen people, Israel. All people matter to God.
God’s warns the Gentile believers, “Stop being arrogant.” This has always been God’s attitude: “All who fear the Lord will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride, arrogance, corruption and perverse speech” (Prov 8:13NLT). No one is entitled. No one deserves God’s acceptance, so we can only be saved by grace alone.
The second command is to “be continually fearing”—that is, we should be afraid not to do what He says. The arrogant have little respect for others and less respect for authorities, especially for God and His word.
Paul’s lesson is to overcome the presumption of God’s grace and the vain imagination that blessings will always come regardless of a lack of faith and obedience to His word. Don’t be presumptuous!
“Dear Lord, keep me from presumptuous sin. Show me when arrogance begins to take over and help me to have a healthy fear of the consequences of straying from Your word.”