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Romans 15:1

Posted by Matt Postiff April 6, 2011 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Interpretation 

Romans 15:1 - We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves (NKJ).

Romans 15:1 - We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves (ESV).

In my reading this morning I paused at this verse. A few thoughts came to mind. What struck me first is that believers have a moral obligation to be patient with those who are weak. The previous chapter discusses the specific kind of weakness Paul has in mind.

Whatever kind of weakness or failing that some believer or church has, we have an obligation to bear with them. Our first reaction may be to leave the church (read: separate), but that approach is not in accordance with the spirit of this passage. (I assume we are not talking about a matter of heresy or failure to carry out basic Biblical duties.) Someone may say, "Those people are unspiritual, weak Christians. I'm going to find a better church." I do not believe that approach fits what Paul has in mind here. "Bearing with" does not equal "writing off." "Bearing with" requires spiritual maturity and hard work. The goal of edification is not easily achieved (15:2).

Sometimes the "writing off" approach comes from a deep seated attitude that the church has to provide what I need/want, or what my kids need, or whatever. "If this church is too weak to get that done, then I'm going somewhere better." A better approach would be to dig in and use your spiritual gifts to help provide some ministry that fills a gap rather than leaving the church in the same state you found it. "Ask not what your church can do for you. Ask what you can do for your church."

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