Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even the Messiah did not please Himself. Romans 15:1-2
Jesus turned the world upside-down concerning the “strong” and the “weak.” Many, unfortunately, think the strong in this world should use their strength to take advantage of the weak. In fact, vulnerability is seen as an opportunity to gain at the expense of the weak.
Let me share a little “Bible study 101”? Three questions should be part of any study of God’s Word. First, “what did it mean to them?” Next, “what does it mean to you?” Finally, “how does it fit into what I already know from God’s Word?” If you approach all of the Scripture with these questions, you will be served well.
Romans 15 begins with Paul’s encouragement to those strong in faith: to please other Christians before themselves so the church can be unified. That was the specific meaning for the context of which Paul was writing. In other words, there were some Christ-followers who were more mature in their faith than younger, new believers. Those mature Christians had an obligation to help younger Christians in their faith. That was counter-cultural then and it still is. So the second question…
What does it mean to us? We have a mandate to assist those people who are struggling in their faith and help carry the burden of their doubts. If our friends in Christ are struggling with convictions, doubt or understanding, the only way to help them is to show and teach them from the word and to build them up spiritually.
How does it fit into what the rest of Scriptures have to say about “carrying one another’s burden?” It lines up well with 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Paul told Timothy “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”. The scriptures were given for this very purpose, to equip us for a godly life and give us instruction for everything we will encounter.
Maybe I can put it this way. “Don’t just be about yourself. Be counter-cultural. Be like Christ.”