by Mike Ratliff
1 Ὀφείλομεν δὲ ἡμεῖς οἱ δυνατοὶ τὰ ἀσθενήματα τῶν ἀδυνάτων βαστάζειν καὶ μὴ ἑαυτοῖς ἀρέσκειν. 2 ἕκαστος ἡμῶν τῷ πλησίον ἀρεσκέτω εἰς τὸ ἀγαθὸν πρὸς οἰκοδομήν· 3 καὶ γὰρ ὁ Χριστὸς οὐχ ἑαυτῷ ἤρεσεν, ἀλλὰ καθὼς γέγραπται· οἱ ὀνειδισμοὶ τῶν ὀνειδιζόντων σε ἐπέπεσαν ἐπʼ ἐμέ. 4 ὅσα γὰρ προεγράφη, εἰς τὴν ἡμετέραν διδασκαλίαν ἐγράφη, ἵνα διὰ τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως τῶν γραφῶν τὴν ἐλπίδα ἔχωμεν. 5 ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ τῆς παρακλήσεως δῴη ὑμῖν τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν ἐν ἀλλήλοις κατὰ Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, 6 ἵνα ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐν ἑνὶ στόματι δοξάζητε τὸν θεὸν καὶ πατέρα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 7 Διὸ προσλαμβάνεσθε ἀλλήλους, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς προσελάβετο ὑμᾶς εἰς δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ. (Romans 15:1-7 NA28)
1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “ The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on ME.” 4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (Romans 15:1-7 NASB)
Christ-likeness is what we call the desired outcome of our maturing in Christ. Even as we remain in our renovation from sinful, flesh-bound yet redeemed believers to spirit-filled, obedient, and mature believers we will begin to manifest Christ’s character in our walk. God seems to enjoy surprising us in our testing when we respond to that which is unreasonable with grace and patience. This, of course, is part of the fruit of the spirit that is manifest through the spirit-filled.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self- control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:19-23 NASB)
As we have looked at the makeup of Christian Authenticity in this study we have looked at the differences and responsibilities of the more mature believers, the strong, and those that are not mature, the weak. There have been questions asked about how far the stronger believers should bend in their support of the immature in regards to worship and other things pertaining to how church is done. The answer to that is we should bear each other’s burdens as Christ did in His earthly ministry.
1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “ The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on ME.” 4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:1-4 NASB)
The strong here are the mature believers, the spirit-filled. The Greek word translated as “to bear” here means, “to pick up and carry a weight.” God is calling the mature believers not only tolerate the weaknesses of the immature believers, but to help them carry or shoulder their burdens. How? They are to love them and show it through practical consideration for them.
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 NASB)
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. (1 Corinthians 9:19-22 NASB)
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 NASB)
Jesus Christ’s ultimate purpose was to please God and fulfill His will. He bore the reproaches of those who hate God and, therefore, hate Him. He bore them willingly. In this context, Paul is showing us our example. The stronger, more mature believers are to bear with the weaker, less mature believers in love and patience just as our Lord does for us all day, every day.
5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (Romans 15:5-7 NASB)
Paul is calling all believers, the strong and the weak, to put aside their differences in how they view the non-essentials of our faith by pursuing a loving, spiritual harmony, especially about things about which the Bible is silent. Our unity is more than just vocal; it is rooted in the truth and our faith in our Lord and His Word. We are to be unified to please God for His glory. Lastly, our example for bearing with each other in love and patience is our Lord. He is perfect and sinless, but He was willing to bring us, sinners, into God’s family. He bears with us daily in our spiritual immaturity. Therefore, shouldn’t we warmly embrace each other even when we disagree about issues of the conscience?
24 “ A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. (Matthew 10:24 NASB)
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29 NASB)
32 Be kind to one another, tender- hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32 NASB)
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB)
Soli Deo Gloria!