These are the middle lines of the final passage in chapter 11 of Paul’s letter to the Romans. They express Paul’s (and our) awed recognition of God’s infinite greatness.
Who knows the mind of the Lord? Who is able to give him advice? Who has ever given him anything, so that he had to pay it back? – Romans 11:34-35
These are the middle lines of the final passage in chapter 11 of Paul’s letter to the Romans. They express Paul’s (and our) awed recognition of God’s infinite greatness. Paul’s words here echo Isaiah’s words, “My thoughts, says the Lord, and my ways are different from yours. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways and thoughts above yours.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) They express our humble recognition that God needs nothing from us. He is above and beyond us. “For all things were created by him and all things exist through him and for him. To God be the glory forever! Amen.” (Rom. 11:36)
Yet we know, too, by our experience, that God is not capricious and arbitrary with His greatness. He is not like us. Though he is great beyond our imagination, he loves each one of us, individually, personally, with a love that is beyond our understanding. Though, in our puny and petty arrogances, we turned away from him (and still do), foolishly claiming powers to ourselves that we do not, and cannot have, he still loved us. His love was (and is) so great for us that he let go of greatness, gave himself over to us in his only begotten Son, took on our very existence, as small as it is in comparison, and walked among us, suffered and even died for us.
In this he showed us what true greatness is. And, then, incomprehensibly, he stuns us by inviting us, in our freedom, and in our smallness, to participate in that greatness with him, serving him, in faith and true humility, by loving one another as he loved us. Knowing this in humble faith, what else is there for us to do but to praise God for his glory? And we give our greatest praise to him for all he has given us, not in our mere words, but in our humble deeds. When we love others, forgiving those who have injured or even persecuted us, we are saying with our very lives, “To God be the glory forever! Amen.”