Last week we read of Paul addressing those areas in a Christian life that are left to our Christian opinion. But he did pull out a couple of principles. One, in our decisions in the areas of opinion we are not to be a stumbling block for someone else. Secondly, not only are we to not trip people up, but we are called to walk beside them to lift them up.
There is an assumption that when we help pull someone up, that there is a weight to bear. And when we are bearing this weight, it is not to do something to please ourselves. Beware of the lone ranger attitude where you say, “I can do it myself.” We are not just looking after ourselves. We have to look out for where others are struggling, and how we can help them for their sake, not our sake.
Most translations of the Bible will say to “bear with the failings of the weak” but this isn’t consistent with Paul’s previous statements. Instead, a closer translation is “to bear with …” So when we take a look at our neighbors, we ask, “how can we build them up?” And this is a mutual edification. Lifting them up does not drag us down. We will both be lifted up. God will equip you to be what is needed for that person.
We see three areas relating to lifting others up, First, we see the ultimate reflection of life with God in the sacrifice of Christ to lift us all up. Secondly, we see the hope and truth brought out in the standard given by God in the Bible. And God’s truth is relational and not some rule book. What does the Bible say? There isn’t an option A, B, and C in the Bible. Just one choice A. The positions never change, but it is as we walk in the Word that we discover the truth.
Thirdly, there is never a relationship in a spiritual walk where one person is above another. We operate as one mind and voice to glorify God. Even though there may be leaders, it is a partnership with all under Christ that we walk together. So in the struggle, we stand as one. We praise and worship in the midst of struggle, and God will lift us up together.
It is God who gives endurance and encouragement. If you are wanting step one, two and three, it doesn’t come across that way. Every walk is unique. And we are going to be thankful for those who God brings into your path to walk with you. Sometimes we don’t want to accept the encouragement from God because it reminds us that we need encouragement. But let go of that lone ranger attitude and allow God and those around us to walk and lift each other up.
15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (ESV)
3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 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. (ESV)
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)