We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”[a] 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Christian liberty was allowed, not for our pleasure, but for the glory of God, and the good of others. We must please our neighbour, for the good of his soul; not by serving his wicked will, and humouring him in a sinful way; if we thus seek to please men, we are not the servants of Christ. Christ's whole life was a self-denying, self-displeasing life. And he is the most advanced Christian, who is the most conformed to Christ. Considering his spotless purity and holiness, nothing could be more contrary to him, than to be made sin and a curse for us, and to have the reproaches of God fall upon him; the just for the unjust. He bore the guilt of sin, and the curse for it; we are only called to bear a little of the trouble of it. He bore the presumptuous sins of the wicked; we are called only to bear the failings of the weak. And should not we be humble, self-denying, and ready to consider one another, who are members one of another? The Scriptures are written for our use and benefit, as much as for those to whom they were first given. Those are most learned who are most mighty in the Scriptures. That comfort which springs from the word of God, is the surest and sweetest, and the greatest stay to hope. (emphasis mine)
As yesterday's post said, exercise your freedoms if you choose, but better not to exercise them around someone whose conscience tells them they shouldn't exercise that same freedom. We are to support and uplift each other. That can mean that you abstain from alcohol for the sake of supporting someone who struggles with it even though you feel that there isn't anything wrong with a drink now and then, for example. Help to strengthen those who are weaker. Deny yourself in support of another who isn't as strong. Never mind your rights. Just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean you have to or even necessarily should. I think our society today, including the churches, are much too hung up on individual rights and not nearly as concerned about helping and supporting one another as we should be.
We are often so concerned about our rights and how we believe we deserve to be treated that we forget that serving others is more important that standing up for ourselves. I'm not saying we should just let people treat us badly and walk all over us, but I think at times we are so indignant at the idea that someone might take advantage of us that we forget that we are to serve others over ourselves. Yes, we need to take some time for ourselves to refresh and recharge or we will be of no use to others, and no, we should not tolerate abuse to ourselves or to those around us, however there are times where we are offended or put out and rather than forgiving and showing that we are different by returning anger or offense with love, we give back as good as we get.
May we be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, less likely to take offense to minor slights, more willing to support another in weakness, more willing to forgive, more loving, and more Christ-like with every passing day. Amen.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 15:5-6.