Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Strong and The Weak Brother

Daniel and I have been reading through Romans together this summer. It has been a helpful and edifying experience to read through a passage of scripture and talk about it with him. The Lord has used it to bring sin to light and to make me love the Savior more.

When we got to Romans 14, I was reminded in greater measure about how radical the weaker/stronger brother idea is. Often I have heard it explained in the context of a stronger brother feeling that his or her liberty is challenged when a weaker brother sees the stronger one’s liberty as sin. Maybe the liberty is challenged, maybe not. But what struck me the most is how much this passage is “others” focused. The discussion about the weaker and stronger brother is not about a right to do something—it is about self-giving service to a brother or sister who serves the same Christ as us. The stronger brother has an obligation to protect the weaker from temptation to sin—even if the matter is a not a sin issue. The weaker brother has an obligation to not judge the stronger brother for doing things that he or she might view as “sinful.”
There have been many occasions when I have looked down on someone for choosing to do a particular thing that is not condemned in Scripture, but would be against my own conscience if I did it. I need to repent of that. There have been many other occasions when I have looked down on someone for not choosing to do a particular thing because I felt the freedom to do it. I felt threatened by their abstinence. I need to repent of that.

All of Romans 14, and the rest of Romans, is pouring out of the rich truths of the Gospel that come before it in Romans 1-11. We do all of these things “in view of God’s mercy” (Romans 12:1). God has saved us, not because of our own merit, but on the merit of another. As a result our lives should be a reflection of that. It should be a radical, life-giving service to our brothers and sisters so that people will see Jesus—not us.

Living in light of Romans 14 should cause people outside of Christ to stand in wonder. Not because we are really good at abstaining from the “no-no’s” of the Christian life, and not because we are really hip and free to do whatever we please. Rather, let them be amazed that we give up our freedoms regularly, so that Jesus Christ is made much of in our churches, homes, and communities.


debt said...

A wonderful reminder! Loved it!

steph johnson said...

Yeah, I love you Courtney! Can't wait to talk tonight :)

Tarters said...

Great reminder Court! Thanks for sharing!

cdt said...

Thanks for reading everyone! Love you all!