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Romans 15: 1 – 2           NIV

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

This is one of my least favorite scriptures in the Bible. I can hear that voice in the back of my head saying, “So … you think you are a strong Christian, do you? Well, here is what strong, mature Christians do.” Then I look at my life and I am not sure that I measure up and it causes my heart to seize.  

This was written by the Apostle Paul who learned these lessons himself. Then, as though, he just didn’t have time to soften his expression he unleashes this teaching upon us all. One gets the sense from his tone that this is something very important but also urgent. The church was growing by leaps and bounds but there was no leadership in place. Everyone was new so they had to grow up fast and Paul was the leader in teaching spiritual maturity. 

I feel that same sense of urgency today. We are living in the closing chapters of the story and the time is short. I do not believe that we can afford the casual Christianity of our past. We must each put on our big boy pants and grow in the things of the Kingdom. I know that I fall short of the mark but as I look around I am convinced that I am not alone. We have played around with our Christian faith and used it as a convenience rather than adopting it as a lifestyle. Now Paul is calling us to higher ground. Awaken! The time is at hand for all of the children of God to grow into spiritual maturity.

There are three clear mandates in this short passage. Each one of them is a message unto itself but you will have to preach those three messages to yourself since this format does not lend itself to that level of comprehensiveness. First, there is a recognition that there are those who are weak and whose weakness is seen by their spiritual failings, chief among these failings is their inability to live up to this passage. There is an assumption that we are not one of the weak but rather the strong. Everyone was new and weak at one time but by now we should have grown up a bit. So, the first admonition is the carry your brother who is not yet able to stand for himself, bear him up on your shoulders. This necessarily precludes our judging them, by the way.

Second, we are not to spend our energies pleasing ourselves. How, then, do we spend our effort? First in supporting those who are weak and secondly in the third admonition; please your neighbor building him up as you do. We really are not supposed to have ourselves on our minds all of the time. Our thoughts are not to be consumed with our perceived wants and needs. It is God’s job to meet all your needs and you know how to pray. So, you say your prayers thanking God for meeting all of your needs today and then that is the last time you have to think of your needs. Now you can use your mental and physical power meeting the needs of others. You have it in your power to bless others. What are you doing with that power? Look around you. What are the needs of your family members and friends? How can you be a blessing? Are there those at work who could use a spiritually mature person to help them? Of course there are. Everywhere you look today are people you could bless if you should choose to do so.  

It is time for us to go to the next level of growth. Are you with me?

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