Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Give a Hand (Romans 15:1-2)

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (Romans 15:1–2, ESV)

Our acceptance of one another extends to our doing good toward one another and even helping those who are struggling. This is what it means to build others up. In this passage it says that those of us who are strong have an obligation toward those who are weak. The amazing thing is that strength and weakness may vary in each of us depending upon on what is going on and how we are dealing with it. But generally speaking when Scripture refers to being strong it means being strong in the Lord and able to stand in the midst of some trial or spiritual attack.

In Ephesians 6 we read about our need to prepare ourselves for spiritual battle by dressing ourselves in the armor of God, Who makes it so that we can indeed stand strong. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13, ESV) Knowing this battle to be real for us, we are able also to encourage others as they engage the battle as well, knowing that our God is faithful toward all of us. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12–13, NASB95)

How this helping one another with struggles works its way out varies dramatically, knowing that we all struggle in many ways. In regards to areas of temptation and sin Galatians 6:1-3 tells us, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:1–3, NASB95)

There is not one of us still taking breath and this side of the grave who has “arrived,” and as such we are to deal with each other with that same recognition that God is doing a work in them just as He is in us. And for sake of argument or let’s call it spiritual maturity, a real sign of maturity is not haughtiness but the fruit of the work of the Spirit in us. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23, NASB95) Notice that each of these has a relational component. Galatians continues, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:24–26, NASB95)

A mark of spiritual maturity is looking to the needs of others. This reflects a heart attitude that has moved from one of being self-focused to others loving. This is the summation of the second greatest commandment which springs from our observation of the first—Love God and love one another.

So, according to our passage and those which have preceded, if we’ve seen God victorious in a particular area in our life and we find our brother (or sister) struggling, we are to come alongside him or her and help them, build them up, and encourage them knowing that while it might seem inconvenient it is what we do as family in which we are children who have learned how to give from our Father.

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