Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. 2 Each one of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself. On the contrary, as it is written, The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. 4 For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures. 5 Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice. 7 Therefore accept one another, just as Christ also accepted you, to the glory of God. — Romans 15:1-7
Let Each of Us Build Each Other Up
by Zac Rigsby
Growing up within Southern church culture comes with its unique challenges. There is something about our culture that is sweet and gentle. It is as though the warm air has seeped into our hospitality and warmed our demeanor. If you do not believe me, then take a trip up north. What we see as common courtesy down here is entirely foreign up north.
But, as time will tell, our warmth and charisma are often only skin deep. We are welcoming in our words and lip service, all the while fighting each other with passive aggressive comments, silence, demeaning tones, gossip…the list goes on. I am afraid there are times when we do not reflect the love for one another that scripture has called us to. Fortunately, this is not only a Southern Baptist’s struggle. The churches in Paul’s letters struggled with it as well. He writes them repeatedly, telling them to stand unified.
Romans is a rich, rich book. So unsurprisingly, this text is pregnant with deep truths about God. I love it when scripture so clearly points us to God and away from ourselves. Verse 5 speaks of our need for God to give us endurance and encouragement so that we might live in harmony with each other (i.e., be unified). But why is living unified so important? Paul tells us it’s so we “may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are called to unity so we may glorify God. The purpose of our unity is more than simply our sanctification, more than teaching us humility, forgiveness, and reconciliation. This unity is more than showing the unbeliever how life with God is so much “better” and “happier.” No, unity is meant first and foremost to bring glory to God.
Then verse 7 has the final thrust, “Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted you.” What a rich and challenging truth! We are to accept one another, without conditions, because Christ accepted us. Who is more unworthy of forgiveness and redemption than the unrepentant sinner? And yet Christ died to accept sinner after sinner into His kingdom. If Christ accepted us in this way, how can we refuse to accept our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Rather than blowing this unification idea up to a grand, denominational scale, let’s narrow in on our own lives—the lives that daily fight and toil against our fellow Christians. I want to challenge us to support our fellow believers so we may be each other’s champions, giving glory to God for the work God is doing in and through their lives. How long will we shoot our own wounded or fight against “flesh and blood”? Brothers and sisters, as you go throughout the week, seek the moments to give praise to God, to encourage your fellow Christians, and to unify the body one thankful word at a time.
- How have I seen God in someone I know? And how can I encourage that person?
- Do I celebrate when God is at work in others’ lives, or do I critique?
- Do I seek to bring glory to God or to myself?
- Who is one person with whom I can be reconciled in a way that will increase unity in the church?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.