Summary: Apart from public sin, nothing shatters the fellowship, the spiritual growth & the witness of a congregation so much as disharmony among its members. Romans 15 continues Paul’s teaching in the vital importance of unity in the church, here meaning the loc
ROMANS 15: 1-6 [CHRISTIAN RELATING SERIES]
PLEASING GOD INSTEAD OF OURSELVES
Someone once said, "The more I get to know the human race, the more I love my dog." Dogs are loyal, dependable, eager to please, and quick to forgive. Don’t you wish people were more like that?
Yet far to often though we seen these characteristics as signs of weaknesses instead of strengths. May be we need to ask then, "What are the evidences of Christian strength?" Some would say knowledge. Others would say leadership. Others would say the ability to impose your will on others in the church. Scripture says that the evidence of strength in a Christian’s life is the willingness to support and bear up the weaknesses of other Christians (CIT).
Everyone of us is in some way and at some time "the weaker brother." We may be the weaker brother morally, physically, educationally, spiritually or in some other area of our life. We must learn how to relate to the weakness of one another if we are to function as a New Testament church.
God has always been deeply concerned about the unity of His people. In salvation, He has effected a spiritual oneness, through the one faith, one baptism and one Lord experience. He has recreated us to be brothers and sisters baptized into one body, the Body of Christ.
Apart from public sin, nothing shatters the fellowship, the spiritual growth, and the witness of a congregation so much as disharmony among its members. Romans 15 continues Paul’s teaching in the vital importance of unity in the church, here meaning the local church.
True Christian love is not selfish, but seeks the benefit and building up of others. It is even willing to carry younger Christians in order to help them along in their spiritual development. We do not endure them. We encourage them to grow (CIM)! This is the great example Jesus Christ left for us to follow.
I. SUSTAINING THE WEAKER BROTHER, 1-3.
II. TWO SOURCES OF SPIRITUAL ENABLING, 4-6.
Verse 1 relays the responsibility strong Christians have to support the weaknesses of others in the church. "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves."
The fellowship of the saints is not to be broken for unessential matters. We have no right to establish conditions for Christian communion over non-essentials. If a man is a true Christian, he should be recognized and treated as such. If God has received him or her, we should receive him or her.
Paul is addressing the strong and includes himself as one of them. A person’s spiritual maturity is revealed by his discernment. He is willing to give up his rights that others might be helped. He does this, not as a burden but as a blessing. Just as loving parents make sacrifices for their children, so the mature believer sacrifices to help younger Christians grow in the faith. What then ought the strong to do? What is their Christian responsibility toward the weak?
First, the strong ought to bear the weakness of those without strength (1a). To be self-centered and self-seeking is the way of the natural man or the fallen nature. But we ought not use our strength to serve our own advantage (1b). The word ought (opheilo) basic meaning is "owing a debt or having a strong obligation." Strong people are tempted to wield their strength in order to discard or crush the weak. Paul says they ought to us their strength bear them up instead. Both the Greek [verb bastazo] and the English verb ‘bear,’ can mean either to ‘endure’ in the sense of ‘tolerate,’ or to ‘carry,’ and ‘support.’ The context suggests that carry or support is intended here. Bear the weak brother does not indicate exceptional generosity. Supporting the weaker brother belongs to the deepest level of Christian debt, duty and demand. Because Christ has born with me, I am to bear up others. To bear the weaker brother does not mean simply "to put up" with him. It is not to bear with him but to bear him up or to carry him. To respond to a weaker brother may place restrictions and limitations on my own liberty and freedom. Galatians 6:2 commands the we "bear the burden of one another’s failings." The world says crush the weak man. Christ says carry him.
Mature believers are not simply to tolerate those with weaknesses but to help carry them–by not being critical or condescending and by showing respect for sincere views or practices with which we may not agree. The idea is showing genuine love and practical consideration for other believers. One person’s strength can compensate for another person’s weakness.
The second responsibility stated here is, "we who are strong ought... not to please ourselves" (1b). The right use of Christian liberty, which the strong believer understands and appreciates, often involves self-sacrifice. This will mean forfeiting certain liberties and attitudes which when exercised would harm a weaker brother or sister.