Eternal God, fix my heart on you today. All else changes, but you are the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
Read Romans 15:1–7
15 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”[a] 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
- Romans 15:3 Psalm 69:9
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectAsk the Lord to show you those whom you’re struggling to accept, either at church, home, or work. What’s making acceptance hard?
Paul identifies himself with the strong (‘We who are strong,’ verse 1). As in Romans 14:14, it’s clear where Paul stands theologically. But driving the weak to the edge (or even out) of the community that bears the Christ’s name because they’ve got some wrong practices is a denial of his cross. The thinking of the strong may be right, but their behavior and attitudes are emphatically wrong.
Paul insists that both sides must take their example from Jesus, seeking to build each other up rather than insisting on their own way (v 2). This is emphatically Christlike (v 3). The heart of it all is given in verse 7: however much one side might feel they deserve God’s favor more than the other, their attitudes mean that none of them do. Their acceptance of one another has to be as open-hearted and unreserved as Christ’s acceptance of them.
In challenging them all to learn from the Scriptures, Paul hopes and prays that they will find both patient endurance and encouragement: patience to bear peacefully with the differences, and encouragement to go forward together, filled with the hope that brings unity among the church and glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (vs 5–7).
It’s always easier to see how others should change, so that we don’t have to. Where might Jesus be challenging you to remove the beam from your own eye first?
Dear Lord, may I learn to accept fellow believers so that the work of the gospel will advance.