Read Romans 15:1-12
1We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." 4For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs 9so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written:
"Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name."
10Again, it says,
"Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people."
"Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples."
12And again, Isaiah says,
"The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him." (NIV)
Paul continues his teaching about the duties of the believers within the Christian community. And his teaching can be summed up in the motto of the Salvation Army, “Others.” Paul always wrote that our duty is to others and not to self. In this passage he relates it to what Christ did for us in coming to earth. He came not for himself, but for others. We need to love and accept one another.
Now, we must also remember that in being tolerant with others, we do not abandon our beliefs. What Paul means is that we seek the welfare of others and leaving them in their present state of sin in not good for them. He is reminding us that when we love we win more people to Christ that when we tell people how bad they are.
William Barclay in writing about this passage says that Paul gives different points as to what Christian fellowship should include.
He says it first be marked by the consideration of its members for each other. This is so important to church life. When we make it about ourselves and what we want, we lose sight of what Christ wants for our lives which is to live life to the fullest but to also share the gospel with all we meet.
He then says the Christian fellowship should be marked by the study of Scripture. Paul in this section as well in others quotes what Scripture says to help us learn what Christ wants from us. Scripture gives us both history and what is necessary for salvation. It doesn’t give us all there is about God, but it gives us enough to keep us pointed toward God.
He says the Christian fellowship should be marked by fortitude. We should live lives with a certain strength and even air of triumph. Christ defeated death so that we might have eternal life. We have this hope which should strengthen us.
From this he says the Christian fellowship should be marked by Hope. This hope allows us to thing about others. This hope allows us to give of ourselves. This hope as I talked about Sunday, gives us the power to do things for others.
The Christian fellowship should be marked by Harmony. This is at the heart of much of what Paul writes about. If we are not in harmony with one another, it affects our witness to the world.
The Christian fellowship should be marked by Praise. Praise of God is an essential act of the Christian. It is at the heart of our worship when we gather. When we can praise, it is hard to feel low. Praise lifts not only the object of our praise, but the one who praises.
And he finally says that the Christian fellowship should take its pattern after the life of Christ. Paul eludes to this in the passage as well as others. Our example should always be Christ. Christ gives us the ultimate example of what it means to live for others and for God.
Paul moves from this duty to say that this is why the Gentiles are a natural part of the faith communities and should be accepted as they accept Christ. Christ came that all might be saved. There is no one outside of that all. Granted we must accept the work Christ did for us, but it is available to all who live to accept. That must be our message to the world.
Blessings and Peace