Can you imagine if Jesus had acted the way we do and expected His followers to be perfect? Some of us are further along in our transformation than others. We have different weaknesses, strongholds, gifts, and talents. We are responsible toward one another to edify, fortify, and encourage, not nitpick, criticize, or condemn. Verses 1-7 of this chapter read,
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For 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 former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world, He came to save us (John 3:17). He lived the Word of God as the Word of God. It is His love acted out which saves. It is in our exalting Him by following His example that we lead others to Him, not in our condemnation of their weaknesses. He took on our sins. In verse 3 Paul quoted Psalm 69:9. Psalm 69:9-13 reads,
For zeal for your house has consumed me,
and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
10 When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting,
it became my reproach.
11 When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword to them.
12 I am the talk of those who sit in the gate,
and the drunkards make songs about me.
13 But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
David, the author of Psalm 69, concerned himself with his actions, his faith, and his relationship with the Lord. He let his life lead people to God. Instead of criticize people for not being where he was, he like Jesus took responsibility for showing people the better way. He also understood that it would not be his criticism that would convict but it would be The Lord who convicts. Each person has to be personally convicted by the Lord and deal with it himself. That is not up to us. We do not save, Jesus does. The life we lead, the faith we exhibit, and the love we express can show people the way. Verses 8-13 read,
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”
10 And again it is said,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”
12 And again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Jewish Christians at the time had much more experience in God’s word. They had grown up learning the scriptures. Gentiles had come from a variety of pagan religions, and different practices. They were new to the God of Abraham. Today, we can equate that with people who have grown up in Christian households, or who have been believers for years and compare them to people who are new believers. The longer one walks with Jesus, the more he comes to know the Lord and the more he is conformed to His image.
God gave us to one another. We have a responsibility to one another, not to judge and condemn but to edify, teach, serve, and love. Romans 12:3-8 says it like this,
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
God’s will is our sanctification, which is another way of saying our transformation to be like Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and for the salvation of every person on the earth (2 Peter 3:9). Those goals are our goals too. That is our common mission. Verses 14-21 read,
I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation,21 but as it is written,
“Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.”
Paul’s ministry within God’s mission was very specific and it was not exactly the same as Peter’s ministry, John’s ministry, or yours or mine. But he knew that the Body of Christ would all work together toward The Lord’s purposes because the Body of Christ has His Spirit. We too can trust that The Holy Spirit to work through one another for His objectives. You are not the only Christian called by God for service. Every follower of Christ has been called, every one of us has been given gifts and we are given the task of using them for building the Kingdom of God. Ephesians 4:11-16 says it this way,
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Believer, Jesus didn’t condemn the world or criticize the weak. Do we have a right that the Lord of lords and King of kings didn’t take? We are not called to denounce, we are called to encourage. We are not called to demean, we are called to edify. We are called to BE salt and light not talk about being salt and light. I encourage you today to stop focusing on the weaknesses of people and begin living as an example, supporting, building, serving and loving one another as Jesus loves and lives in us.