In the summer of 386 AD., Aurelius Augustinus, better known as St. Augustine, sat weeping in his friend’s garden. He was contemplating his life. Although he enjoyed the desires of the world, something was missing. Then he heard a child singing, “Take up and read! Take up and read!” Noticing a scroll near his friend’s side, he picked it up and read Romans 13:13–14. Later, he said, “No further would I read, nor had I any need; instantly at the end of this sentence, a clear light flooded my heart and all the darkness of doubt vanished away.” God would use Augustine as one of the world’s most well-known theologians.
Our text today was originally meant for the Romans, but it applies to us as well. In the paragraph prior to today’s text, Paul emphasizes the importance of loving one another because the day when the Lord returns is drawing near. He urges a change in behavior—not later, but now: “do this, understanding the present time” (v. 11). He continues this emphasis on being prepared for the Lord’s arrival here. In addition to loving one another, Paul urges believers to put aside the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light (v. 12). The armor here is the same spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6:10–18.
Notice the stark contrast between darkness and light. This contrast shows the difference between our old life and our new behavior. Paul describes some of the deeds of darkness in verse 13. For Augustine, this list revealed his life’s ambitions. The Holy Spirit convicted him to stop gratifying his human desires and instead to “clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ” (v.14). We are to “wake up from [our] slumber” (v. 11) and allow God to change our heart, our mind, and our life.
>> Where are you in your relationship with Christ? Take up God’s Word and read! You will find the answers you are looking for. They may not come right away, but I’m confident that your life will be changed by God’s Word and through Jesus Christ.