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Love in Sincere Differences

(Romans 14:1-13)

Lesson 9 -- second quarter 2002
April 28, 2002

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2002, Christian Light Publications

Who is weak?

I am strong. I withstand peer pressure easily enough. I know what I believe and stand there confidently. I have never been morally disloyal to my wife. I continue in the faith. I control my use of the computer. And so on and so forth.

I am weak. I still have my struggles with not having returned to Mexico as a missionary. At times I find myself going in circles around real and imagined offenses. Self-discipline doesn't come as easily as it once did. I have a tougher time prioritizing my responsibilities. I am more moody and more withdrawn and more easily depressed than I used to be. And on and on it goes.

I wish I were a pillar in the church, but I don't consider myself as such. Does that make me a weaker brother? Not necessarily. You see, the weaker brother in one area may be a pillar in another.

So back to the first question -- who is weak? We all are! Being human, we all have our areas of weakness, as I tried to illustrate in the opening paragraphs. How then can we look down on someone who may not be as spiritually mature and stalwart as we are in some area?!

A Biblical view of the weaker brother

The weaker brother is not someone to be put up with and tolerated. Neither is he someone with whom to be impatient. And we certainly should not stoop to mockery and a lack of consideration. No! The weaker brother is someone to love, help, support, and nurture. The weaker brother is someone for whom to pray and sacrifice.

The weaker brother is someone with weaknesses, struggles, and immaturity just like my own . . . only in different areas. I am no better than he, just different. Suppose that means God has put us in the same local body for a purpose? And suppose that purpose is that he help me just as much as I think I need to help him? Whenever you see someone whom you perceive as weaker, take this challenge: Find an area where he is stronger than you. My guess is that as you set out to be his spiritual helper you will discover that he will also be your spiritual helper. That's one of the glories of being mutually-dependent members of this body called the Church.

Must I always yield?

A casual reading of Romans 14:13 certainly sounds like I must always be the one yielding. Read it again -- "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." A few other Scriptures produce a similar impression.

The question and the interpretation of Romans 14:13 reveal a wrong perspective. That perspective assumes that I will always be the stronger brother! We have already seen that such is not the case. Therefore, no, I must not always yield . . . because there are times that others will yield to my weakness.

Keeping that in mind should help me be more charitable and yielding toward the brother who is weaker. Having experienced the consideration and yielding of others, I should naturally extend that same consideration and yielding toward others. Having been loved instead of tolerated, and helped instead of judged, I should also be loving and helpful.

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