We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Romans 15: 1

 

First of all I want to point to the fact that it is Paul who is speaking here. I do not make the claim to be with him in counting myself among the strong as if that is some sort of mark of superiority or even of greater maturity. Yet, I think that this is the point that Paul is making. We are all weak when it comes to our living in the righteousness that God calls His people to follow. However, Christ works in every one of us to transform us into the new beings that He intends for us to be. This process of change and the tension that exists between maturity in Christ and various people’s areas of weakness is an integral part of the dynamic that is life in the body of Christ.

 

God is telling us that He desires that we would learn to live together in harmony and peace regardless of where we are in this process. Paul is instructing us that one of the important aspects in doing this is to take our obligations seriously. He is saying that followers of Christ have incurred a debt to God that involves following Christ by helping to carry the heavy weight that sin imposes on our less mature fellow believers. Yet, there is a warning here. We are to be careful about engaging in the very human tendency to see ourselves as superior when we are walking with those who are in need of support. We are to remember that just yesterday we were the ones in need and that tomorrow it may be us again.

 

The constant in all of this is Christ. He brings people who are different, in divergent places in our journey through life, and who are distant, holding values and living lifestyles that are significantly in opposition to each other, into a place of singular community that is built upon common faith and that is directed into the true path of righteousness that is found in God’s word. In all of this I am reminded that Christ sacrificed all for me and that He continually picks me up when I am weak and supports me into strength. How can I fail to fulfill my debt to Him by not doing the same for another?