We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
- The strong have an obligation to bear up the weak.
- We are to bear with the failing of others.
- When the weak fail the strong are obligated to bear them up.
- We are not to please ourselves.
- We are to please others
- We are to act for the good of others.
- We are to build up others.
- Christ did not come to please Himself.
- Christ bore the reproach of those who God abhor.
- Our reproach fell on Christ.
- The scriptures were written for our instruction.
- We have hope through endurance.
- We have hope through the encouragement of the scriptures.
- God is the God of endurance and encouragement.
- God grants us the ability to live in harmony with each other.
- God grants us the ability to live in accord with Jesus.
- Jesus Christ is our Lord.
- We are to glorify God with one voice.
- God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- We are to welcome each other as Christ has welcomed us.
- We are to welcome each other for the glory of God.
The previous passage talked about not hindering another person from growing in Christ. This passage now says we are to bear up the weaker. Therefore, Paul addresses our obligation to the Christian community from both the passive and active stand point. We are to bear with the weak’s failing. A Christian ought not to be content trying to please himself and neglect others. In fact, we are under an obligation to others. It is our duty to please and to serve others. Our objective should not just be aid to our Christian brothers but their edification and strengthening.
Paul does not say we are to please others to accommodate them. We are to please them for their good. We are to please them for their strengthening and building up. Our objective is making them stronger. Therefore, we are not to be enablers of their weakness. This works contrary to the objective. So the Apostle is not to be understood here to say we are to condone evil or allow a brother to seek their own destruction because that is what is pleasing to them. Rather we are to strengthen our brother.
Christ did not think about Himself but bore our burden. He left the splendor of glory to live among us, wretched sinners. He came into a filthy, foul, offensive world so that we, who wallow in our own filth, might be clean. He took from us and placed on Himself that which was repulsive to God so that we could be acceptable to the Father. If Christ reigns in us, as He must reign in His people, then desires to care for the weaker must be in us as well.
Paul writes that all of the scripture was written for our instructions. He is referring to the writing of the Law and the Prophets. Paul is referring to what we call the Old Testament. The Old Testament was written for our instruction and we ignore it at our peril. Those who claim the Old Testament does not apply to Christians today are trying to turn Christians away from what God has given for our salvation.
Moreover, we find here a most striking condemnation of those fanatics who contend that the Old Testament is abolished, and that it does not belong to us living under the New Testament. The whole of scripture is given to build up and keep us safe in the protection of the grace of God.
In verse 5 Paul prays for the Romans and by extension us. He asks that God grant us the ability to live in harmony with each other. Paul realized that simply telling us what it is we need to do does not mean we will or even can do it. His exhortation as to what our duty would have no effect unless God worked in us the ability to do what we ought.
Paul then reminds us of what Christ has done for us. He has welcomed us into the presence of the Father. Those whom He has welcomed, we ought to cherish also.
I use to manage engineers. And we would often comment there are people who have 5 years of experience and there are people who have 1 year of experience 5 times. The latter group never learned from their experiences and therefore never grew. They were our weaker engineers. But they thought of themselves as strong engineers. They thought of themselves as having 5 years of experience. We all think of ourselves as strong Christians. After all we have been Christians several years. We may actually be the weaker Christians than one who has only been a Christians a short period of time. The fact of the matter is time alone has very little to do with your strength as a Christians.
Additionally, being the stronger or weaker is not a permanent position. Most of the time, I am physically stronger than my wife. However, there are times when my wife is physically stronger than I am. When I have just worked very hard and I am physically exhausted or when I am physically ill she becomes stronger than me. There are time when others are stronger than us. Then there are times when we are stronger than them. Therefore, we should always bear each other up.
Let us pray that God will grant to us the ability to live together in the harmony He would desires for His church.