Bear the Weaknesses
Romans 15:1-3 NASB
Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”
Under the Old Covenant Relationship God had with his people of old, they were restricted as to what they could eat or drink, they were to follow particular ceremonial laws, and they were to keep the Jewish Sabbath.
But, after Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, and was resurrected from the dead, and the New Covenant came into place, God’s people were no longer under those dietary restrictions, nor did they have to follow the Old Covenant laws. Now they were under God’s grace and the law of love, which is to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, which sums up the law and the prophets (Matt. 22:37-40).
But, some of the Jewish believers in Jesus Christ hung on to some of the Old Covenant regulations with regard to food and drink, with regard to the Sabbath, and with regard to religious celebrations (See: Col. 2:16-17).
So, those who now had the liberty in Christ to eat or drink what they could not under the Old Covenant, and to see every day as a day unto the Lord, and the freedom to not celebrate all the old religious festivals, were to be patient with those who were still hanging on to those things.
Thus, those who felt that they still needed to follow those old rules were not to pass judgment on those who had the freedom not to follow them. And, those who were free from those old restrictions were not to judge those who were not free yet, but they were to accept one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and to work together, as fellow members of the body of Christ, toward mutual growth and maturity in Christ.
For, these matters were not matters of sin against God, but they were disputable differences, regarding things that did not impact our fellowship with God or our eternal security. And, today we still have many of these matters which fit in a “gray” area of neither being bad or good, but neutral. Thus, we are not to judge others in these areas if they disagree with us or if we disagree with them. But, we are to accept one another in love.
Nonetheless, so many who call themselves Christians give a bad reputation to the Christian faith when they argue (fight, quarrel) with one another, especially publicly, over matters not of consequence to our salvation or to our eternal life in Jesus Christ. I personally have seen so much nastiness between those purportedly who are brothers and sisters in Christ, and in public forums, and over matters of little consequence. This should not be!
But, I have also seen people take such passages of scripture as this, in Romans 15, out of context, and to make them say that we ought to tolerate willful sinful addictive behaviors in other believers, and they call this loving one another. But, truly that is not the message here, and it never will be.
For, if truly we are living to do what pleases our neighbor, for his good, for his edification (improvement, advancement), it will not to be to excuse away or to ignore his sinful practices, but it will be to speak the truth in love to lead him or her to repentance and faithfulness to Jesus Christ, our Lord.
For Our Instruction
Romans 15:4-7 NASB
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. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
But, the reality of the situation is that some people will judge us by their own consciences, and by their own religious rites, rituals, practices and ceremonies, of their own choosing, but not according to God and His Word. They will judge us by themselves, by their own personal prejudices, and by human understanding, culture, society and worldly thinking and reasoning. And, in their judgments, they may also reproach us for our freedom in Christ, our stand on the Word of God, and our walks of faith in Christ.
But, Jesus went through all of that already, before any of us would ever have to suffer in this way, and he did so that we might share in the fellowship of his sufferings and follow his example in how to respond to persecution and misunderstandings, and that he might sympathize with us in our times of difficulty and persecutions, so that we can find comfort in Him and learn from Him during these times of trouble.
Our Lord is our strength, our counsel, our hope and our encouragement during such times. We can rest in the Lord, rely on his mercy, trust in his promises, and believe in his sovereignty whenever we are reproached because of our faith in the Lord and our stand on what we believe is right; on what God and His Word approves or permits in our lives and in our daily practices. He never makes allowances for willful sinful practices, though.
So, the only way that we can be of one mind and heart with one another is if we are of one mind and heart first of all with our Lord, and in agreement with His Word (under the New Covenant). This allows (makes room) for disputable differences which have no consequence with regard to our salvation and eternal life with God, but it does not allow for or accept continued and willful sinful practices (in lifestyle, in our walks).
So, unity with one another is unity with Christ and His Word. Then, with one voice and one mind and one heart we can glorify God.
Abound in Hope
Romans 15:13 NASB
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, what is our hope? Our hope, not wishful thinking, but what we believe has happened, is happening, and will yet take place one day, is our salvation from sin and our eternal life with God. It is that Jesus Christ died on a cross one day many years ago in order that you and I might be free from slavery to sin and set free to now walk in his holiness and righteousness.
It is that Satan no longer has control over our lives, and now we can walk in victory over darkness because Jesus already conquered sin, Satan, hell and death via his death on the cross, and via his resurrection from the dead.
Our hope, too, is that, in all this craziness that this world of sin brings upon the people of the earth, and in all our persecutions, rejections, and mistreatments, and in all sickness, injury, trials and tribulations, God is still on the throne. Amen! He still rules supreme over all that he has made. He is still completely sovereign over everything.
Even in all our weaknesses, via sickness, injury, trials, and tribulations, he is sovereign, in control, there for us, and he helps us, heals us, and leads and guides us in the way that we should go. He strengthens, comforts and encourages us, too, and he continues to fill us with hope, joy, peace and his love.
This is especially true during times when we don’t have the strength to go on, or when the pressures of this world are crashing in on us and we need wisdom to know what steps to take next. He is always there to reassure of us of his love, his power, his strength, and that he has it all under his control, and that he is working all things together for good for them who love God and who are called according to his purpose.
So, when we are feeling weak, for whatever reason, we know we can go to him in prayer and that he will strengthen and help us through it all.
The Solid Rock
Edward Mote / William Bradbury
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all…
Sunday, May 20, 2018, 9:08 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for these encouraging words. Thank you for heartening me today and for times of refreshing in You.