The Weakest Link

Message:  In Romans 15 Paul was talking to the church as mature believers and calling them (and us) to a higher standard. He said that those of us who are “strong” have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not to please ourselves. Verse 2 tells us that “each one of us must please his neighbor for his good to build him up” and he compares this to Jesus who did not please himself. At first glance this almost sounds like enabling. Right away it made me think of the parents who take a toy away from an older child to appease a screaming younger child. This is NOT what Paul is talking about because this is supposed to be done for the good of the weaker one, not necessarily for their pleasure. I believe what Paul is describing here is having patience with weaker ones who are learning. If we are impatient with them in their learning process, or if we ignore them and leave them in the dust because of their weakness, they will not grow. Truth be told, if we act like this, we are actually revealing our own immaturity and weakness, since the hallmark of immaturity is selfishness and demanding our own way. This is expected of infants but infant behavior is not supposed to be found in an older person (although we have definitely seen an older person throw a fit and marveled at the ridiculousness). I love that Paul spoke to them all as if they were all mature because naturally, everyone wants to be seen that way. I wonder how many of them in the room would want to own up to being the weaker one? Truthfully, we are all at different stages of maturity, but we were not intended to stay in a state of infancy with our faith. We should be growing and changing every day and we should be able to recognize those who are more mature than we are, as well as those who are less. The bottom line here is that we need to be aware of those around us who are immature in their faith. Our obligation is to encourage them to continue taking steps in their growth while being patient with them as they learn. If we model this in our own behavior, we will be teaching them how to also do this for others as they grow. Have you ever noticed that we increase our own learning when we teach someone else? We will never “arrive”, but we increase our own faith and understanding when we help others, and when we help others along, we continue to shed layers off of our own immaturity.

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