This is the sermon for Sunday, May 9th, 2010.

Practical Christianity part 11

Our obligation and Scriptural examples.

Romans 15:1-7.

Romans 15:1-7 NET – 1 But we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not just please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to build him up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself, but just as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope. 5 Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory.

INTRODUCTION

This is the eleventh sermon in our series, “Practical Christianity.”  Last time we looked at the practical reality that as Christians we should make it our aim not to be a stumbling block to other Christians.

We are going to continue in this theme showing that our obligation should be toward other believers, and what Paul says about some Scriptural examples.

Before we begin unpacking the text, I think it is important to look at some of the themes found in Romans 14 that will help us put 15:1-7 in context and perspective.

  • We are to accept one another because God has accepted us in Christ (Romans 14:1&3).
  • We are not to judge another believer in matters of conscience because Jesus is our only master and judge (14:3-12).
  • Our love for the “weaker” believer is more important than our own personal freedom (14:13-23).

In light of these truths, let’s begin unpacking the text in that framework.

We are obligated to bear other believers.

Romans 15:1-2 NET – 1 But we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not just please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to build him up.

Romans 15:7 NET – Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory.

What does Paul mean by, “We who are strong,” and, “failings of the weak?” Those that are strong are referring again to the personal freedom many of the Gentile Christians had during Paul’s day.  While the “weak” were the Jewish Christians who still struggled with issues of the Law.

The ESV study Bible says, “The strong have a responsibility to tolerate and support the weak instead of living selfishly to satisfy their own desires.  The Christian life centers on strengthening others.”

How would this apply to us? Well, the Christian life is not about what pleases us, as some Preachers and Authors today claim; ultimately its about cross-bearing; laying down our desires and bearing the struggles of other believers.

Now the NET is wrong translating the Greek word asthenema (as-then`-ay-mah) as “failings.”  It should be translated as “weaknesses.”  Here is the NASB, “we who are strong ought to bear the weakneses of those without strength.”

Verse 1 goes on to say that we should not do it to please ourselves. In our day, it would be doing something right because we knew that a reward would be coming to us because of the right deed.  We do what is right solely because it is the right thing to do!

Why do we bear the weaknesses?  Verse 2 answers, “to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Now this doesn’t mean that we must compromise our convictions, but that we should not push our personal preferences or convictions on another concerning matters of conscience.  Building up one another, not tearing down one another down is the issue.

Christ our example.

Romans 15:3 NET – For even Christ did not please himself, but just as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

Jesus didn’t come to save us for His own benefit, but for ours!  What Jesus did coming and dying on a cross was the ultimate selfless act: God, lowering Himself by becoming man to save man!  Look what Paul says in Philippians.

Philippians 2:5-8 NET – 5 You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, 6 who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped,7 but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. 8 He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!

Paul is an example as well.

Romans 15:4 NET – For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.

Here Paul speaks that others within the writing of Scripture serve as our example, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptural examples we might have hope.  Well, I want to look at the example of the one who wrote the book of Romans – Paul.  You see, Paul practiced what he preached.  Let’s look at a couple of passages.

1 Corinthians 9:19 NET – For since I am free from all I can make myself a slave to all, in order to gain even more people.

1 Corinthians 10:31-33 NET – 31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 32 Do not give offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also try to please everyone in all things. I do not seek my own benefit, but the benefit of many, so that they may be saved.

Paul’s example:

  • In all he did, he made himself a servant to all to win them.
  • All he did was for the glory of God.
  • Tried not to be a stumbling block to the Jews and Greeks outside of the church, and the church itself.
  • Try to please others, not himself, so that many may be saved.

A prayer to live by.

Romans 15:5-6 NET – 5 Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What a marvelous prayer we have here by Paul.

Unpacking the prayer:

  • Endurance and comfort is from God and can only be granted by Him. Endurance in Greek is hupomone (hoop-om-on-ay`). It means, “perseverance and constancy.”  Our ability to both endure in Him and endure one another can only be found in Him.  Comfort in Greek is paraklesis (par-ak`-lay-sis). It means, “encouragement.”  Jesus uses the noun form of this Greek word, paraklete, to describe the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John.
  • A prayer for mutual unity; “unity with one another.” This means to keep from divisions and strife.  What a wonderful prayer to pray.
  • A prayer of united praise (verse 6). As we are bearing one another’s weaknesses, our voice of praise rings in unison.

CONCLUSION

What practical truths we have studied today.  Let’s ask the Lord to grant that He would give us the desire to lift up fellow believers though we may differ on matters of conscience; and with one voice, may we glorify the Lord who bought us – Jesus Christ.

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