We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. ~Romans 15:1
Confession…I really wanted to be the weak one in this verse. I wanted others to have to bear with my failings, but as soon as I say that I know…I have this one wrong.
All through Romans, Paul is talking about what it means to be a good Christian. He outlines what it means to live as a Christian and how to have Christian character. He’s pretty specific in chapters 12. Verse 9-21 go over what the marks of a good Christian are. He spends chapter 13 and 14 detailing topics like submission to authority, fulfilling the law through love, and not passing judgment on one another. He gets to chapter 15 and starts talking about the strong bearing with the failings of the weak. I found myself wondering, “Who are the strong?”. I so wanted it to be me. I wanted to have a verse that demands everyone tolerate my failings and shortcomings. However, the more I chewed on that I realized, I am not the one Paul is referring to. I am starting to believe, those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus are the ones with strength.
Now, I’d like to get all high and lofty about how strong I am and how amazing I can be, but really I cannot. The only strength that I have originates from God. He is my strength. His strength overtakes my weakness. His love overpowers my failings and leaves strength in it’s place. I am weak and He is strong. He exchanges my weakness for His strength. My faith in God and His love for me qualifies me as strong. I have an obligation to bear with the failings of those who do not claim faith. I am called, by my source of strength, to be patient with those who have not yet tapped into the source of strength I claim.
Now,what about that pesky little end of the verse, not to please ourselves? if I’m honest, I will tell you that, when I step out of God’s Will, it brings me pleasure to be intolerant and it brings me pleasure to try and sit in a place of judgement over those who are weak. But I am outside of God’s Will and I am sinning when I do that. I am not to be about the business of pleasing myself. I am to be about the business of pleasing God.
I am to let love be genuine.
I am to abhor what is evil and to hold fast to what is good.
I am to love others with brotherly affection.
I am to outdo in showing honor.
I am not to be slothful in zeal but to be fervent in spirit.
I am to serve the Lord.
I am to rejoice in hope, to be patient in tribulation, to be constant in prayers.
I am to contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
I am to bless those who persecute me, BLESS THEM NOT CURSE THEM.
I am to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
I am to live in harmony with others.
I am not to be haughty but associate with the lowly.
I am never to be wise in m own sight.
I am not to repay evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on me, I am to live peaceably with all.
I am not to avenge myself, but leave it to the wrath of God, because vengeance is His and He will repay.
I am not to be overcome by evil, but I am to overcome evil with good.
Based on this list, I have too much to do to be messing with prideful attitudes and a haughty heart. I best be getting to work and allowing God to change my heart so I can better resemble Him.
Until another confession…