Love Bears All Things
Truth Taught – Walking together in unity requires us to focus on caring for others and not so much on pleasing ourselves.
God desires His people to love each other and walk in harmony. Unity asks us to give up something for the good of others. If we all are out for ourselves there will never be unity. When we are seeking to serve others then unity and harmony are possible.
What would the church look like if everyone began to follow Philippians 2?
Philippians 2:3–8 (ESV)
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
When we are sacrificing for the good of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are following Christ because that’s what He did.
I want to pause just for a moment and explain that walking in unity requires that we be unified on the truth of God’s Word first and then caring for one another second. It is possible to be unified on false doctrine. We could walk in perfect harmony in a lie. We would be unified in untruth and this would not glorify God. Other religions, for example, are unified on doctrine but it’s not truth. The result is a mass unified multitude believing a lie and condemned to hell.
We must be unified on the truth and then walking in unity of the Spirit. Beloved, when we are, we are singing a song to God with one voice in perfect harmony. We are walking in Christ and we are fulfilling prophecy as well.
Jeremiah 32:38–39 (ESV)
38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.
Our Lord also knew that through His eternal work of redemption that He would build a people who walk in harmony.
John 10:16 (ESV)
16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
Here is one of the big differences between the church and the world. The world seeks to mandate harmony within our society. It’s often done even at the expense of peace and harmony. The race riots of the 60s, for example, picture how the world handles these issues. Fighting and protesting are doing the exact same thing that the rioters and protestors claim is unfair when they’re the ones at the receiving end. The world attempts to create a façade of unity by seeking to make everyone alike. Whether it’s race, gender, abortion, etc., all are areas where the world seeks a twisted and evil unity.
The church must be different. We must celebrate the fact that we are all different. We come from different ethnic backgrounds, black, and white, Asian, etc. We are different in gender—some are male and some are female. Rather than crushing our individuality and uniqueness, the beauty is when we can be diverse and in harmony in the truth of the Gospel and serve each other in love embracing how we are different from each other and yet in harmony through the power of Christ.
Revelation 7:9–12 (ESV)
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Notice where this great multitude was focusing its undivided attention, it wasn’t on themselves and the fact that they were from different ethnic backgrounds was it? People are focused on the Lamb and His glory. When a great multitude made up of diversity have one unified focus, namely, Jesus Christ, it is in perfect harmony.
This is God’s Word for Grace Community Church this Lord’s Day. Father, give us ears to hear it with a readiness to obey for the glory and fame of Jesus Christ.
Romans 15:1–7 (ESV)
15 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
15 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
The strong mature Christians have an obligation to the weaker Christians. This word translated as obligated is the same as we’ve already seen in . . .
Romans 13:7–8 (ESV)
7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
We are obligated to pay taxes because they are owed, respect and honor to whom it’s owed, and loving other believers is also owed.
Here, something else is owed. To younger Christians what is owed is that we must bear with them and not please ourselves.
We are obligated to bear with the failings of the weak. Here, too, bear means to help our brothers carry their weaknesses not to criticize them or shun them or make fun of them when their beliefs are immature.
Therefore, to bear the weaknesses of fellow believers is not simply to tolerate those weaknesses but to help carry them—by not being critical or condescending and by showing respect for sincere views or practices that we may not agree with.
As we carry/bear the weaknesses of the more immature believers we are helping them walk in harmony, and, when we do, unity within the church gets stronger.
The way we do this is to not always think about ourselves. Our Christian freedom is NOT to be used to please ourselves but to build up others.
and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
God holds us under obligation to help other believers within the local church setting by bearing with them. Sometimes, we might think that the word bearing means something like tolerating them, but it doesn’t mean that at all. To bear with is to take the yoke of the brother’s weakness on our shoulders and help him.
A picture of what Paul is referring to might be something like this . . .
Let’s say our church is all holding hands and walking across a very big field. The mature Christians have walked it before, but the new Christians have never been across it before. As we hold hands and walk together, we come up on a hole just big enough for one person to fall into. Because we are holding hands the mature Christians can bear the weaker brother and lift him over the hole, and it’s almost like it wasn’t even there. In order to do that, we must be in unity and looking out for the interests of others not our own all the time.
Is there a hole you need help getting across?
3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Why should we do this, because Jesus did it and we are to imitate Him in all we do. Jesus showed us how to live a life pleasing to the Father and it’s all about denying yourself and serving others.
If Jesus’ focus had been on Himself, He would not have come to earth, taken on humanity and lived as a Servant to all. His focus was on His Father and on us.
Matthew 26:39 (ESV)
39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
If Jesus had come to please Himself, He never would have been in that garden praying to the Father “not My will but Your will.”
We are to also live for the good of others. We are to make sacrifices for others. Serving others within the local church costs us something. We are under obligation to give up things for the good of others—time, talent, and treasure are the beginning. We must go out of our way to engage them not walk around looking the other way. Jesus went out of His way to save us.
Next the Apostle Paul quotes an OT passage and concludes that this text was fulfilled in Jesus’ death on the cross.
as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.’
This quote comes from Psalm 69:9 where David, the lesser king is a shadow of what would happen to Jesus the greater King. We see in Psalm 69 the unjust suffering of a righteous man. As Jesus refused to please himself fully embracing God’s will, identified Himself with the name, will, cause, and glory of the Father. The insults intended for God fell on Him. The same will be true of all who seek to honor God by serving others. The more like Christ we become, the more of the world’s insults that are directed to God will land on us.
When Paul quotes from the OT here he takes a slight detour to explain why we have the OT. This is a great encouragement as we seek to focus on others and not on ourselves.
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
We can learn a lot from this verse . . .
Even though the Bible was written a long time ago it has a very clear contemporary use. It’s instruction for the ages. It’s vital to teach us even though its origin was in the former days. By quoting half of a verse Paul declares that the entire OT has great value for us today. He also shows us the Christological focus of the OT when he quotes it and says, basically, that Jesus has fulfilled this verse. This is a great example of how Jesus taught His disciples things concerning Himself from the OT. We also see a very practical application as well. Not only is the Bible able to make us wise for salvation through Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 3:15) but it is able to encourage endurance toward eternal hope while suffering in this life. The Bible takes our focus off ourselves and off this world and places it securely on our future glory.
Here’s the amazing way God accomplishes His design for perfect unity among His people. As the stronger Christians bear up the weaker Christians, their perseverance is aided greatly. The stronger Christians, however, will suffer loss, insults by the world, and difficulty in the present world. Because of the suffering endured by the stronger Christians, they will be driven to the Word and there they will find comfort, encouragement, and perseverance. The end result of stronger Christians bearing the weaker is that both are taken to a whole new level of maturity in Christ together.
As this amazing process takes place, notice what goes with it . . .
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Many call this a prayer of Paul’s but it’s really him declaring a blessing on the church. As we walk in unity, we are helping one another endure to the end. We are encouraging one another along the way walking together in Christ, and to God it sounds like a wonderful hymn as we are all singing with one voice.
We see Paul’s wonderful conclusion to this section . . .
7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
This verse takes us all the way back to Romans 14.
Romans 14:1 (ESV)
14 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
So, by welcoming, bearing with, and encouraging a weaker brother, his faith is made ready to persevere, and in the process yours is too. God has a wonderful plan to grow His church into maturity and it comes about as we truly love one another in Christ. God is getting us all ready for eternity . . .
Revelation 21:1–4 (ESV)
21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Romans by Christopher Ash
Romans by Douglas Moo
Romans by John Stott
Romans by John MacArthur
Outline of Romans by Steel and Thomas