“For your obedience is come abroad unto all men, I am glad therefore on your behalf; but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” (Romans 16:19/KJV).
Obedience is one way how people might react to something they are being told to do. Obedience involves careful listening.
The Christian believers at Rome had been told the message of Jesus Christ. They had decided they wanted to follow Jesus and to yield their lives to Him. They had confessed their sins and they had received God’s forgiveness.
As an outward sign, they got baptised. They joined the church at Rome. There they could regularly listen to the preaching of God’s word.
Obedience today would imply a Christian ought to take the time to read some passage from the bible every day. An obedient Christian would also pray to God (at least) daily.
In churches, some outward observances will be required. Depending on the denomination you belong to (or you join), you will be taught certain rules, how you should behave in a worship service. There are regulations when to sit and when to stand. There are times to sing and times to be quiet.
The apostle Paul shows himself happy about the Roman believers having heard and heeded the call of God. In fact, very many people had heard about these followers of Jesus living at the capital of the Roman Empire. There was no secrecy about these people believing in Jesus.
Obedience is good. It can be a great advantage when you have somebody who gives you useful instructions. On the other hand, you will not always have a good teacher by your side.
Paul wants these believers to become wise in doing that which is good. He says: doing good deeds does require some skill and understanding.
People who deceive others, who steal or kill are fully aware they have to be skilful and swift. They try to make sure nobody detects what they intend to do. They want to be quick before anybody could get into their way.
Somehow it is close to our human nature that we think of and dwell on evil things. Yet Paul says he does not want believers to develop and increase that skill. He would like believers to be as wise and well versed in doing good things, as others might be concerning evil.
The Romans had become known for their obedience to the teaching of the Christian faith. Pa wanted them to also become known for their good deeds. Perhaps this is a reason why he was eager to visit Rome also and to teach the followers of Jesus living in that capital city.
Love “keeps no record of wrongs”. Love does not continually dwell on the negative experienced.
According to Paul, the Christian faith does not solely consist of bible readings, prayers and church services. There is more than basic obedience to Christian teaching.
You might obey a Christian counsellor and state you want to forgive somebody who has wronged you. Yet it would be desirable that you stop focussing on these memories and train yourself in doing good things to others. Paul even wanted believers to become “wise unto that which is good”.