Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bearing with the weak

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. (Romans 15:1-3)
As I was reading my scriptures yesterday I ran across this series of verses and I had to stop and think about it, because I wasn’t sure how the exhortation to bear the infirmities of the weak was related to the prophecy of how Christ would bear the reproaches of others.

I started to make a little headway when I remembered that Christ said that inasmuch as we do it unto one of the least of these we have done it unto Him. He takes an insult to others as if it is an insult to Himself and He takes charity to others as if it is charity done to Himself.

(It is interesting that this principle is something that is codified in international politics that aggression against one must be considered aggression against all. But it doesn’t always happen that something is done about it, because of the limited resources and apathy and so on..)

It’s not a pleasant thing to take what happens to others personally, especially when someone else is getting persecuted. We have a natural instinct of self-preservation and a desire to avoid pain and suffering, so it seems counterintuitive to deliberately involve ourselves in bearing the suffering and reproaches of others.

This is where I realized that not only does bearing the infirmities of others mean recognizing and trying to help them cope with their handicaps (physical or spiritual), it also means we step forward when others are coming in for abuse and say, “Hey, you pick on them and you’re picking on me too.”

Why was Paul exhorting the saints to do this? Because Christ did it, and Christians are committed to following Christ’s example.