5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We've been studying unity among believers and in particular, between the strong and weak believer, where a strong believer is defined as one who understands their freedoms in the Lord on neutral issues, and the weak believer is defined as one who does not understand this completely yet and is a bit stuck or hung up on externals or traditions or other similar burdens. Not sin issues!
And we've seen that we need to receive each other, because Christ receives us, because Christ sustains us, because Christ is sovereign over us, because Christ will judge. We need to build each other up without offending - not causing a fellow believer to stumble, to be grieved, to be devastated, not to forfeit our witness, not to pull down the work of God and not to flaunt our liberty. And now Paul reminds us to please each other, with Christ as our example.
We've seen that we need to bear with each other. In particular, the strong need to bear with the weakness of the weak. And that doesn't mean impatiently waiting for them to get their act together. It means coming alongside them and nurturing them in their walk with God as they gradually move from weakness to strength, with love, as a privilege.
We've seen that we need to please each other. This doesn't mean people pleaser or weakening the gospel message so as not to offend, or changing it to fit what people want, or compromising the truth, or whitewashing sin - not that!
MacArthur: we're talking about pleasing them in the sense of helping them carry a load of bondage they do not yet feel free to unload until we can walk long enough with them to convince them they ought to dump the pack.
We've seen that we need to be selfless. We need to be more concerned with helping them in their weakness than in flaunting our strength. We need to be more concerned with pleasing God than pleasing ourselves. We need to be concerned with becoming more like Christ, not with others becoming more like us.
And we've seen that we need to submit to scripture. The revelations contained in scripture is what gives us hope. It gives us hope to endure any trial and encouragement in the process. It teaches us endurance and patience. And, of course, patience and endurance and encouragement go a long way in encouraging the weaker brother as well.
And then verses 5-6 answer two important questions.
1) How exactly are we going to do all this?
By relying on God's power. God is the One who gives us endurance - He is the source of endurance. God is the One who gives us encouragement - He is the source of encouragement. He is the One that will give us the ability to endure and to encourage and build each other up and to be selfless and to please each other and provide a spirit of unity even where there is disagreement. This doesn't mean that we all have to agree with each other on every single doctrinal issue - but despite our differences of opinion, we need to have unity. And only God can do that.
2) What is the purpose of all this?
The purpose is to glorify God.
We should be controlled by a consuming desire that God be glorified. And this is to seek the glory of God rather than self glory.
This verse is also another one of the numerous verses that claim Jesus' deity. God and Christ are one. No one comes to God but through His Son, Jesus Christ.
And so he says the purpose of all of this is your unity so that with one mind, that's internally, and one mouth, that's externally, you would glorify God. What God? The God who is one with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Glory be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 15:7-12