STRONG OR WEAK?
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.
Lord Jesus, strengthen my faith that I might encourage others for the glory of your name.
‘We who are strong’, Paul says (v 1), clearly including himself in this description.
The ‘strong’ aren’t troubled by the anxieties and doubts of those who are ‘weak’ in faith. They know that God in Christ has done all that is necessary for their salvation, but Paul warns against complacency, urging the ‘strong’ to support the ‘weak’ – those who struggle with a faith that trusts in Christ alone. The diverse community of the Roman church is given guidance for how to live together and there is constructive advice for us too. Notice the key thread through these verses – the name and presence of Christ.
The selfless living of Christ is our model (v 3). Quoting Scripture, Paul alludes to the fact that Christ did not put his own interests first. We are to ‘please our neighbors’ (v 2) – quite different, as John Stott reminds us, from being pleasers of men.1 We may be reminded of Christ’s summary of the Law: to love God, and our neighbors as ourselves.2 In this context, our neighbors are our fellow believers (v 2). This altruistic pleasing is for their good, to build up our common life of faith (v 2). Paul encourages us to learn from the Scriptures: the story of God’s people – who have relied on his strength in adversity and been encouraged by him.3 His prayer is that, as a result of reading God’s Word, not only will we be encouraged and hopeful, but the servant- heart of Christ will be formed in us (vs 5,6).
The outcome? Paul has urged believers to accept the one who is weak.4 Now he says, ‘Accept one another’ (v 7), addressed to the whole community of believers. As Christ has welcomed all of us, so we are to welcome one another. As we are united in Christ, God is glorified.
‘… that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.’5 Praise God for his acceptance of you and your fellow believers.
Dear Lord, may I learn to accept fellow believers so that the work of the gospel will advance.
1 John Stott, The Message of Romans, IVP, 1994, p369 2 Matt 22;36–40; Mark 12:29–31 3 See, for example, Heb 11:1 – 12:3 4 Rom 14:1 5 Phil 2:10
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