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Pastoral 2016

Every Christian’s Duty

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In Romans 15:1-2, Paul records for us the duty which every Christian should know and be fully committed to – “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.”

Every Christian is called to be a member of the church, where he renders himself for the edification of other Christians. Paul has earlier stated this truth in Romans 12:5 – “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” In 1 Corinthians 12:25, he further emphasises “that the members should have the same care one for another.” It is God’s design that we edify one another through mutual care.

The first counsel that Paul gives in the above text is that the strong are to help the weak. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak”. Paul’s use of the word “ought” (opheilo in Greek), which means “owe” or “be a debtor”, suggests that the strong ones must feel an indebtedness to God to help His weak children. The word “bear” (bastazō in Greek) has meanings such as “carry”, “endure” and “support”. Hence, it is the duty of every Christian to bear patiently with the weaker ones around him and help them to walk and grow along with him. He who is spiritually strong should neither despise nor neglect those who are weak. Instead, he graciously renders himself available to support and help them. “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye” (Romans 14:1a). In 1 Corinthians 12:22-24 we read, “Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked”.

The second counsel for Christians is “not to please ourselves”. A Christian should not be self-centred if he is to help others as God expects. A person’s spiritual maturity is evidenced in his willingness to give up his rights so that others may be helped. We must be willing to deny ourselves if we can promote others’ happiness in doing so. Our conduct should not be motivated by our personal happiness or gratification, but rather by the welfare of others. We must, like Paul, be able to sincerely say, “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-22).

The third counsel is to “please his neighbour” – “Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification”. No Christian is exempted from the exhortation given in this verse. Every Christian is urged to “please his neighbour”. In the light of the context of this verse, the word “neighbour” denotes a fellow church member or a fellow believer. To “please” another is to conduct in a polite or courteous manner towards that Christian brother or sister.

Many biblical admonitions, if carefully implemented, will enable us to be “pleasing” towards one another. Some of such admonitions are briefly enumerated below:

  • We must greet one another, showing respect and love. 1 Corinthians 16:20b says, “Greet ye one another with an holy kiss” (cf. Romans 16:16; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14).
  • We must be kind-hearted to all, showing love and compassion. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love” (Romans 12:10; cf. John 13:34).
  • We must show respect to all (even to those who are younger and immature), “in honour preferring one another”, as we are admonished in Romans 12:10 (cf. Philippians 2:3; 1 Peter 5:5).
  • We must be welcoming to others in the church. Romans 15:7 urges us, “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God” (cf. Romans 14:1-3; Matthew 10:40).
  • We must be helpful and caring towards one another, even to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:14).
  • We must be patient towards others, “with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love”, as Ephesians 4:2 instructs us (cf. Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13).
  • We must “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
  • We must encourage and edify one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (cf. Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:16, 29; 1 Thessalonians 4:18). In other words, we ought to “please” one another for the expressed purpose of edification. ■

 

 

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