Rom 15:1-13 We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us must please our neighbour for the good purpose of building up the neighbour. 3 For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name”; 10 and again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”; 11 and again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”; 12 and again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.” 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul writes to a community of Christ-followers in Rome who believed that being Jewish made then spiritually superior to those Christians who were Gentile. He has used the first part of his letter to emphasise that all are equally loved by God, and that the Jewish-Gentile divide was meaningless in God’s estimation. Now he shifts his focus. Paul challenges those who thought that they were spiritually stronger than others, “to put up with the failings of the weak”, to spend your life helping those who you see as spiritually weaker “for the good purpose of building up the neighbour..” He points out that this was the example set by Jesus, who gave his life “in order that the Gentiles might glorify God”.
I am inviting us to learn from this. We who follow the way of Jesus have no right to feel spiritually superior over those who do not see life as we do. Our Christian distinctiveness is that we offer our lives in service to humanity. Nothing more – nothing else.
Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Lyrics: Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879)
Sixth Sunday after Trinity
37 The Church for Others
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 231.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.