1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Rom. 15:1-4
Recently my wife and I were in a special time of prayer. We did not set out to pray for anything specific; we simply felt a desire to spend some time in the Lord’s presence.
As we prepared to begin, the scripture that naturally came to mind was Romans 14:17: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
We thought we knew what this scripture meant – had read and heard it taught hundreds of times. That is, until we decided to study it a little bit more; and then we were surprised to find the context in which it was written. As we read through Romans 14 through 15 we found out that this scripture was written in the context of not only not becoming a stumbling block to a brother (14:13); but, more importantly, to bear with the weaknesses of others. To not despise, and to not judge others. And, finally, to welcome everyone into our hearts, regardless of their weaknesses.
It slowly dawned on us that this required a lot more grace than we had. The admonition to judge not, and to “receive ye one another” (15:7) were quite a tall order for us. (It is the most natural thing to “receive” people selectively. And there are some things that man is a professional at, right from birth: things like judging or despising those who do not attain to his particular ‘standards’.)
But in these scriptures we also see the heart of God. The heart of God is the heart of a father. God’s heart is wide enough to accommodate everyone. No wonder God “… maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” – Mat. 5:45.
More importantly, though, we see that the Apostle Paul also carried this heart, the heart of a father. That is why he could write these things. It was a life that he lived.
No one man knows what the future holds for them. But one thing I desire of God is that He may give me the grace to carry the men and women that He brings into my life with His heart, a heart of grace.
Is it any coincidence that it is to the very people that he wrote these words – the Roman brethren – that Paul sent his most personal greetings? He proved how much of a father he was: he not only knew each one of them by name but even more surprising, he knew their lives almost inside out!
Among the many salutations that touch my heart greatly is this one: “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”
Paul felt it important to acknowledge that these brethren had met Christ before him! He even says these men are “of note” among the apostles. He found something POSITIVE to say about each person!
We could write much here, but let us not stray from true need of our hearts: to carry God’s grace in our lives for others.
There are so many people out there that need ENCOURAGEMENT instead of discouragement. There are so many people who need to feel a heart of SUPPORT instead of a judgmental stare.
A fatherly heart of COMPASSION is the keyword here.
Needless to say, we can arrive at this level of spiritual maturity and grace in dealing with people only when we are daily walking in the revelation of the cross – denying self, taking up our cross and following Christ. Our boasting in this regard – and it is the only boasting we have in the gospel – is when we are dying daily.
[Below: The Apostle Paul knew intimately the lives of the men and women that he worked with. Scripture challenges us to do the same]