Do you fancy yourself “strong”? Some of you will say, “No.” But even in the act of declining the label “strong” you are crediting yourself with the ‘strength’ of being humble enough to resist the temptation to boast in your strength. So… bottom line, we all fancy ourselves “strong”/”right.”
God says, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” So in addition to being honest about the fact that you think you’re “right”/”strong,” you also have to admit that you think other people are weak/failing.
What are we supposed to do with these people in our community whom we honestly regard as “weak” and “failing”? We cannot deny their existence, because God clearly indicates that they are real. And we cannot pretend to regard ourselves as “weak” and “failing,” for saying this about ourselves is meant to sound humble; and if we are truly humble we will repent of our failings and we will subsequently become strong. So again, the question is, what are we supposed to do with these “weak” and “failing” people?
No doubt you will have to work out the particulars but the parameters are as follows: The God of endurance and encouragement will 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. Simply put, we are all part of the same BODY, and therefore, endurance, encouragement, and harmony are imperative.
Paradoxically, we cannot say to the weak and failing members of our community/body, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together (see 1 Corinthians 12).
This analogy of the body compels us to embrace the fact that we are desperately dependent on one another; and we genuinely strive to enjoy the company of our siblings, and receive help from them (see Romans 15:24). Indeed we OWE each other love, mutual helpfulness, refreshment, and joy (see Romans 1:12; 13:8; 15:27, 32; 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:3), and we are commanded and compelled to OUTDO each other in showing honor to one another (see Romans 12:10).
All that said, we must be careful NOT to adopt or cultivate a simplistic understanding of our harmonious and mutually helpful life together. Amidst (and mysteriously, somehow, in accordance with) our devotion to one another we must not allow what we personally regard as good to be spoken of as evil (see Romans 14:16). For instance, one person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind (see Romans 14:5). And here’s the key… the fundamental motive, and final goal, of our respective views and values is to honor and thank the head of the body. In other words, we don’t commit to our personal preferences and principles in a self-absorbed manner, but rather our commitments are utterly oriented and obsessed with Jesus of Nazareth (see Romans 14:5-8).
One final note about the complexity and particulars regarding our harmonious, joy-centric, mutually helpful, Jesus-obsessed life together. A WARNING… Watch out for those who cause divisions and create unnecessary obstacles. These people will be smooth talkers and flatterers, and they will deceive the hearts of the naive. You must be wise as to what is good (like Edmond Dantès, aka the Count of Monte Cristo, aka Sinbad the Sailor, aka Abbé Busoni, aka Lord Wilmore) and innocent as to what is evil (like Charlie Bucket) (see Romans 16:17-19).