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 to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself. On the contrary, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me”. For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures. Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice. Romans 15:1-6
Paul here is telling us three important things. And they are: the strong are supposed to help the weak, we (as the Church and Christ’s representatives here earth) are to build each other up and not tear each other down, and that we are to get our hope, our endurance and our encouragement through the examples given to us in the Scriptures.
The first thing that Paul tells us here is that the strong are suppose to help the weak. He in fact opens this entire section of Romans with these words: “Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those with strength” (Romans 15:1). What is Paul telling us? Paul is telling is that we have an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves. And this obligation comes directly from God because here is what God commands us in Leviticus 19:9-10: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the resident alien; I am the Lord your God”. But the question then becomes who are “the poor and the resident alien”? “The poor and the resident alien” were the weakest members of Old Testament society, just as they the weakest members of our society today. And as followers of Christ we have a God given obligation to provide those who are at their weakest moments in life with a way up and out of their weakness. Which leads directly into the second thing that Paul tells us in Romans 15:1-6.
The second thing Paul tells in Romans 15:1-6 is that we, as the Church and Christ’s representatives here on earth, are to build each other up. Just as we have an obligation to provide those in their weakest moments with a way up and out of their weaknesses, we also have an obligation to build up every one around us. And that includes those we may not like and those who may not like us. Paul wrote it this in Romans 15:2, “Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up”. And Paul was echoing the words of Jesus when he said this in Matthew 5:43-48:
You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
And then Paul has this to say about it in Romans 12:17-20:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. But
If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
For in so doing
you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.
Paul and Jesus are both telling us in these passages that we are to be a people bringing hope to the world and not more destruction. And the way we bring hope to the world is through building others up and not tearing them down.
The last thing Paul tells us in Romans 15:1-6. is that we find our hope, our encouragement, and our endurance through the Scriptures. Paul said it this way in Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures”. The Bible is the very word of God and is given by God to us. Paul tells his protege Timothy and us this 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for very good work”. The Bible is our instruction manual and our reference book. It is our source for finding the answers that we have about life and it is the place we should go to find our hope, our endurance and our encouragement. Why is this the case? It is because the Bible contains the story’s of many of those who have gone before us in this faith journey that we are on. In fact you should read Hebrews 11 at some put in time because it gives you a list of those who made the faith hall of fame and they are included there to give us encouragement, hope and endurance as go through this faith journey. Which is why the writer of Hebrews ends his discussion about the hero’s of faith in this way:
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice.