Summary: We have a special responsibility to brothers and sisters who are weak.
I heard about a college recruiter who interviewed a high school basketball star. The recruiter said, "I hear you’re pretty good." The player said, "I’m the best there is. I averaged 45 points per game. I was the best rebounder in my high school. And I led our team to 3 undefeated seasons and 3 state championships."
The recruiter said, "That’s incredible. "Tell me," he said, "Do you have any weaknesses?"
He said, “Well, just one. I do have a tendency to exaggerate.” The truth is we all have weaknesses. That may be a difficult thing for some of us to admit. For example, I have heard that 90% of men rank themselves above average in athletic ability. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have our weaknesses.
Some of our weaknesses are physical, some are mental, some are moral. Some of those weaknesses have to do with our work, some with our family life, some with our relationship with Christ. Some of us, for example, have short tempers, others of us lack diplomacy. Some of us are too proud, others of us lack back-bone. We’ve all got our weaknesses.
And one of the truths that we have to come to grips with is that the church is full of weak Christians. Here’s a brother who misses worship services for reasons we know aren’t right. Here’s a brother who doesn’t give as he ought to because there are too many things he wants to buy to enjoy life. Here’s a sister who struggles with drinking or swearing. Here’s a brother who doesn’t understand this Bible doctrine the same way we do.
Yes, the church is filled with weak Christians. And just when you get to the point when you start admiring that strong Christian, you really look up to him, he lets you down, too. You find out that he has some weaknesses also. So what are we going to do about those in the church who are weak? What should be our relationship with the weak members of the body?
We need to begin with the recognition that all of us are weak. Now there are some members of the body who are rightly called "strong" and those who are called "weak". It’s legitimate language because it’s biblical language. But there’s no person in the body who isn’t weak! "Weak" and "strong" are relative terms. They’re never used in the New Testament to teach that there are some Christians who are weak all the way through and some who are strong all the way through.
Rather, we’re all weak and strong in certain areas of Christian living. The word "strong" simply means that we’ve brought our behavior into line with that of Jesus Christ. The word "weak" means that we haven’t yet attained that goal. It’s important to note that not all sin can be categorized as weakness. If I’ve stopped trying to grow, to mature, to live for Christ, that’s not weakness, that’s unfaithfulness and that’s another matter altogether.
But we all recognize that as we strive to live the Christian life, there are some areas where it’s more difficult to be what we should. I may be strong in moral purity but weak in controlling my tongue. I may be strong in faithful attendance but weak in giving as I ought to. Time and time again, we have experienced moments when the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak (Matt. 26:41). And hopefully, by the grace of God, as I grow and mature as a Christian, I become stronger in more and more areas.
But there are no strong Christians who don’t have some weaknesses. Even the very strong are still far below the standard Christ set for us. We see it over and over again in the biblical record. Think of the shortcomings of Noah, Abraham, David, Elijah, Peter, Paul, even Barnabas. We see it in the strong disciples around us. Strong men and women who have trouble with a critical spirit, or a seeking for prominence, or arrogance or some such thing.
Let’s begin with the confession that we are all mutually weak, that we all need to pray the prayer of David in Psalm 6:2, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak.” Yes, some of us are weaker than others but none of us is without weakness. So, with that thought in mind, what should be our relationship to those who are weak? And I think to best answer that question, we should begin by looking to see how God feels about the weak.
I. How Does God Feel About the Weak?
Romans 5:6 assures us that God loves the weak. Paul says, "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." When did Christ die for us? It was while we were without strength, when we were weak.