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Bearing with others
- Jacob Ninan
"Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, 'The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me'" (Ro.15:1-3). When we deal with those who are 'weaker' than we are, we can please ourselves by boasting in front of them, making fun of them, judging them without mercy, demanding that they should do just as we would (in effect, to perform beyond their strength), etc. Then we forget that we ourselves are weak in comparison with some others, and immeasurably so before God. It is usually only after we have gone through our own struggles and 'our nose has been rubbed in our own muck' that we can begin to value the weaker ones and view their struggles with respect. (When they struggle, that is in fact much better than giving up!) Then we ourselves know what it means to be weak, how every victory or piece of wisdom we have has been received through grace alone (1Co.4:7), and how we cannot even stand without holding on to Him.
Perhaps someone's weakness is that he doesn't know doctrines as well as we do. What an occasion to take pride in ourselves and to look down on him! But haven't we had to change some of our understanding of the Bible as we got to know things better? Is there any guarantee that whatever we know now (or think we know) is 100& correct? Is there any way we can look down on him when we painfully remember how ignorant we were at one time?
Do we see someone struggling with some temptation that we have left behind long ago? But we are not without any struggle now, are we, in some other areas of life? As long as we are weak when we examine ourselves before the Lord, does it really matter if another man is weaker? In God's sight we are both weak (Jas.2:10,11).
Perhaps he finds himself in unknown territory and and is struggling to make the right choice at the crossroads. Perhaps we are safely past those places and it is tempting to laugh at his confusion and wrong choices. But we have some more crossroads ahead of us, don't we? Let's not who are still running the race behave as if the race has been completed already (1Ki.20:11).
If God has accepted him just as he is, it is better for us if we too can learn to accept him at his level (Ro.15:7). Instead of standing apart from him and criticising him, we can go to him, stand on the same level and help him, so that he can grow (v.2), without becoming a stumbling block to him by criticising him unmercifully, making him feel guilty and miserable. If Jesus had sat in heaven, judged us and sent us to hell, He would have been perfectly justified. But because He set aside the judgment, took our reproach on Himself, applied ointment for our wounds, we stand healed now; and there is so much more yet to be healed. As recipients of mercy, let's show mercy to the others.