Bible Passage: Romans 15:1-13
-- How much "bearing" do you do as a believer?
-- How much will you endure to ensure harmony in the church and provide a positive witness to the world?
Food for Thought:
What comes to mind when you heard the words "peanut butter"? Maybe it's that jelly is often associated with peanut butter. The two work well together because they balance each other. One is a little salty, while the other is sweet. They are different, but they work together to make a good sandwich. The church should work the same way. Believers, though different, should work together effectively for the good of the body and the world.
In chapter 15 of Romans, the apostle Paul's goal was to bring believers together in love, harmony and unity in such a way that honored God. He encouraged them to care for one another as the body of Christ. He loved the church and he wanted it to be healthy, not dysfunctional. He wrote that the early Christians could follow his example because he followed Christ's example (1 Corinthians 11:1). That's the same attitude we have to take when it comes to our relationship with "one another" in the church and in our world. Jesus set the example for us. He left a legacy of harmony that strengthens the body of Christ and evangelizes the world. Will we do the same?
Paul identified himself with the stronger Christians. He understood that those who are strong have an obligation to bear the burdens of their (physically and spiritually) weaker brothers and sisters. This act of bearing wasn't just a higher level of patience or tolerance. It was full-fledged support grounded in love and respect. It could prove to be difficult, sacrificial and painful. That kind of burden bearing could only be demonstrated when a person voluntarily chose to please his brother or sister rather than himself. Even during Paul's day, God's people struggled with the issues of endurance and harmony, much like we do today.
God commands His people to live in harmony with one another and helps us understand how to do that. We can find the encouragement we need to foster love, harmony and unity from His Word so He can be glorified in all that happens within the world. After all, it's not about us. It's about Jesus. "Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice" (Romans 15:5-6, HCSB).
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