ROMANS:THE ROAD TO RIGHTEOUSNESS
Imitating Christ in our Relationships
Jerry A Collins
Why is it important to please one another?
Why is it important to accept one another?
What example did Christ set for us?
One of the major lessons of my marriage is the exposure of my self-centerdness. My ability to focus only on myself and addressing that which concerned me. Marriage has exposed this sin in my life because of the need for me to now focus my attention first on my wife and now also my children. Their interests. Their needs. Their welfare. That exposure has been painful not only because of the hurt it has caused but because of the depth of change that has been required. It has affected the very core of my being. I have been forced to face my selfish, self-centered capacity like I have in no other way and it has been the one single way that God has used to get my attention in this matter. Now our passage is going to teach us of the need to do two things in our relationship with one another in the church. First is the need to please one another and then the need to accept one another. Now that we are related to each other we have a responsibility, just as in marriage, to focus our attention on one another not on ourselves. That is because there will be so many differences not just in personality and experiences but also in convictions. Especially in areas where God has given us room to have them. This whole argument began in 14:1-12 by teaching us not to despise or condemn one another. In 14:13-23 by not hindering one another by causing one another to spiritually stumble. Now we will learn of the need to follow the example of Jesus Christ when relating to one another’s differences.
1. LEARN TO PLEASE ONE ANOTHER 1-6
(1) Do that by considering one another 1. The strong is one who understands his or her liberty in Christ. What he is free to do. Then it was to eat pork. To not observe any day more sacred than another. To not be bound by traditions and rituals that observed new moons and feats. They are all gone. Gentile are free to eat meat offered to idols because an idol is nothing at all. Nothing is forbidden now in these areas. It is these who are to take the initiative in resolving tensions between the strong and the weak. The idea is to bear their weakness. Not to trample on it. Not to ignore it. Not to argue against it. Not to look down upon it. Instead, I understand your struggle and I am not going to abuse you but consider you. The weak are those who do not yet feel the liberty to eat. To not observe a holy day. Concern for traditions. The strong must not please self in this matter. The problem comes from flagrantly showing freedom to detriment of conscience of weak one.
(2) Do that by disregarding yourself 2. Your liberty is not to be used to pleased yourself. The goal of our behavior here is the other persons welfare and edification. Pleasing them is not an end in itself but is for their good—to build them up. This is very difficult for us since we are so concerned about our own welfare. It takes a miracle to change us to other pleasers. Everything we do and say must be for the building up of one another. That includes throttling my freedom for the sake of another who cannot enjoy that freedom with a clear conscience.
(3) Do that by conforming to Christ 3. It is a commitment to be like the Lord rather than insisting others become like me that is our example. There is a difference between a people pleaser and a people lover. We see that in Christ. He sacrificed his own preferences for the welfare of others but that did not make him acceptable to everyone—but it did to His Father. Even tho accepted by His Father he was still insulted by others as the quote from psa 69:9 reveals. We must follow His example in this matter.
(4) Do that by submitting to Scripture 4. Scripture provides the motivation for enduring and gives encouragement as we seek to stay faithful in our commitment to do the will of God-namely to please one another. The hope we receive from this is God’s approval of our steadfastness in spite of opposition and frustration. If you want to endure then read your Bible. It is a terrible thing to have no hope. To be discouraged. To cave into our sinful tendencies. Reading scripture is a way of learning from the past—about others who did not pleased themselves—motivated to endure in the present—confidence in the future. People who cop out—give up—cave in are people who do not read their Bible. You cannot move ahead spiritually and ignore the Word of God. Not possible. And you cannot please others over yourself if you do not read the Bible either. How are you doing here? (5) Do that by glorifying God our Father 5-6. The endurance, encouragement and comfort we need ultimately come from God. They are not things I manufacture. He is the author of scripture. So the whole outcome of unity and harmony is a way of constantly glorifying God our Father. As we apply pleasing one another to our interpersonal relationships, the result is unity in the church not disrupted by our differences in convictions and that we learn is how we give God glory—how wee put His character on display. That is the outcome of the strong pleasing the weak.
2, LEARN TO ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER 7-13
(1) Do that because Christ accepted us 7. It is inconsistent for a xian, both the weak and the strong, to reject someone God has accepted. The way we glorify God, is the same way Jesus did—to accept one another. Just as Christ accepted us. He received us when we were ungodly—powerless—enemies and sinners. We must now receive others who differ with us in nonessential issues.
(2) Jesus did that by confirming OT promises of God made to Jews 8. He not only accepted them but also came to serve them as OT predicted he would. So stronger gentile believers should not disregard the weaker brothers here. (3) Jesus did that by showing mercy to the Gentiles 9-12. These OT passages reveal that God had always planned to include Gentiles and conservative Jewish believers should not despise more liberal Gentile bros. These OT passages include Moses, Prophets and Psalms—Moses, David and Isaiah. A progression of thought here: (1) David praised God among gentiles; (2) Moses exhorted Gentiles; (3) Psalm commands Gentiles; (4) Prophet predicts Gentiles.
(4) When we accept one another we live in joy, peace, hope 13. Hope points us to the future, We are still under construction as xians. There is more to God’s salvation than experienced as of yet. Joy results from knowledge of what God has already done. Peace realizing what He will do for us. In meantime we can love and accept each other—differences and all from the heart because HS can empower us to do so. Do not have to depend upon my own devices—ability—strength—ingenuity. HS transforms me as He did Paul!
1) We must forgive everybody of every offense they have committed against us—especially those closest to you. Look at all offenses vertically not horizontally.
2) Use scripture only as a source of conformity—all other habits, traditions, customs are okay.
3) We must agree on the sole authority of the Bible taken at face value. If not we do not need to pursue unity with them.
4) There are still 2 issues: Disagreement in what is essential and what is the correct interpretation. Essentials should be determined by the consensus of godly people throughout church history. All others are not matters for separation of fellowship.
5) On different interpretations—if we both are using authors intended meaning we cannot both be right—either one wrong or other so both agree to continue to study and teach.