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©Laura Haverkamp

Chapter 15:1-7 (ESV)

Posted on January 19, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 15:1-7 (ESV) - We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Question to consider: Who were the strong, and how were they to bear the failings of the weak?

Although the study of modern psychology may be a fascinating subject, it is worth noting that many of the conclusions drawn in that field are built upon some faulty assumptions. Even if the methodology is sound in its logic, the outcome doesn’t work if it is launched from a corrupt foundation. One assumption is that people are basically good, and if a counselor can help people work through the challenges they have faced in their life, it’ll bring them back to a good and healthy state. Another assumption is that in order to be able to engage in healthy relationships with others, we must first learn to please ourselves.

Scripture rightly diagnoses our nature in saying that although God made people “very good” at the creation, we have rebelled against God and been corrupted by sin. God’s response to our rebellion was to enter into His own creation at a point in time, perfectly fulfill the law where we failed while experiencing the reproach of men, serve all of mankind by paying their sin debt with His own life on the cross, and then offering His righteousness as a gift to all who would receive it. So even if we are not “basically good”, because of Christ we can be redeemed. Scripture also rightly declares that we don’t engage in healthy relationships by seeking our own pleasure but in serving others in accord with Christ.

Paul has already explained that we have achieved our rest in Christ and are therefore not obligated to follow the holy days or dietary restrictions of the Law. Those in the Roman church who were strong in their faith and understanding of what Christ had done for them did not have a conscience about what they ate or in keeping sabbaths. However, Paul asked them to sacrifice that freedom in order to strengthen the faith of their brothers and sisters in Christ who still lived by such things. It was more important to love their brothers and sisters in Christ and encourage them in their faith than to do what pleased them.

In this, Paul used Christ as an example of someone who cared so much about bringing people into a right relationship with the Father that He was willing to endure our unrighteous reproach which culminated in the cross. What Paul referenced as being written in “former days'' was the Old Testament scriptures. Like the faith chapter in the book of Hebrews (chapter 11), Paul’s point was that through the instruction of these scriptures, he and his fellow Israelites were given an enduring faith and the hope of redemption which was realized in Christ. Even if the Gentiles didn’t feel the need to adhere to these old covenant practices, the God who provided them desired that they live in harmony with their Jewish brethren and glorify His name as one voice.

We may not think so much in terms of sabbaths and dietary restrictions today when trying to live in harmony with one another in the church, but the principle should be the same. We should live and serve one another in a way that helps our brothers and sisters in Christ grow in their faith. If that means we set aside a personal preference in order to live in harmony with one another, then we are loving each other the way Christ has loved us.


Dear heavenly Father, may the love of Christ shine brightly in us so that we desire to sacrificially serve one another and encourage each other in the faith. May we rejoice in what Christ has done in us and in our churches so that we may sing Your praises in harmony with one another. Amen.