Harmony in the Church.
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.
Note: What is meant by weak in verse one is given in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 (esp. 10-11).
We should be eagerly obligated to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Why? Our God teaches us the best way to live as stated in Isaiah 48:17, “This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
We should be eagerly obligated to please our neighbor for his good, to build him up. This doesn’t contradict Paul’s statement to the Galatian believers recorded in Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Paul distinguishes between pleasing men to gain their approval and pleasing men to meet their needs. God’s will is for us to meet the needs of fellow believers even if costs us the pleasure of doing what we want.
In the context of the Roman local church, pleasing men to meet their needs would be, not tempting some of the Jewish Christians who are saved by faith to eat unclean food and in their mind sin against God. Even though we are free in Christ to eat unclean food (Mark 7:19; Romans 14:14), we please the believers who think it is sin to eat unclean food, by not eating it in front of them and by welcoming them despite their opinion. We are to build up the believers just as Christ pleased us (met our needs) by doing what caused Him to suffer.
We know from the Old Testament scriptures that God helped His people when they endured much suffering to do God’s will. Knowing this about God leads us to endure suffering while doing His will, encourages us and gives us hope as we suffer doing His will.
Do you think an army would succeed against its enemy if it was fighting amongst itself? An Army is most successful if each part works with all the other parts to defeat its enemy. The local church is the most effective when it is unified and building each other up in love. It is least effective when not working together because of personal opinions.
Are you able to welcome and work together with those in the local church who live their faith out in ways that differ from your personal preference, but are in line with the scriptures?
We need to pray daily Paul’s divinely inspired prayer recorded in Romans 15:5-6 for our local churches:
"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."
We need to obey God’s command in Romans 15:7 to welcome one another just as Christ has welcomed us. By obeying this command we both glorify God and build up our fellow believers.
May you pursue unity.
Three key questions to ask as we prayerfully read the scriptures:
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