THE CONSIDERATION OF THE WEAK Vss. 1-2
THE COMPASSION OF CHRIST Vs. 3
THE COMFORT OF THE WORD Vs. 4
THE CONFORMITY THROUGH CHRIST Vss. 5-7
You can begin the message with your favorite illustrations or quotes on selfishness.
Each one of us has a selfish streak inside of us. We can all have a "me first" attitude if we are not careful.
When it comes to getting along with other people in the church, especially those who might be considered "weaker brothers" we need to learn to live in an unselfish manner.
To begin with, because of the cross we need to make a decision to strive to live in an unselfish manner. Romans 6:6 reminds us that we died with Christ on the cross. Romans 6:11-13 admonishes to count ourselves as dead to but alive to God. If we died to sin, we died to selfishness!
Romans 12:1 reminds us that we are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to God.
Romans 15:1-7 enhances the Scriptures we just mentioned by providing 4 suggestions for enhancing the defeat of selfishness in our lives.
This section is actually the concluding argument from Romans 14. Romans 14 is the contrast between the weak brother and the strong brother. The weak brother is more legalistic, more tending towards rules and regulations about diet, observance of days, where to go, and what to do. The strong brother realizes that he is free of the rules and regulations of the Old Testament that deal with diet and holy days.
Romans 14:3 - The strong brother is not to despise or think little of the person who is not as free as he is. The weaker brother is to be respected for his convictions. The weaker brother is not to judge the stronger brother. He is not pronounce judgment on the stronger brother. God has accepted both of them.
Romans - Each of us will stand before Christ and give account. We need not prejudge. The Lord Jesus will do a much better job.
Romans - The stronger brother is not to be a stumbling block, a snare, or a trap to the weaker brother. If the weaker brother is legitimately bothered by what the stronger brother does, he is not to be harassed or encouraged to damage his own conscience.
Romans - We are warned not to destroy our brother with our own Christian liberty. That is not love.
Romans 14:21-23 - We are to honor the conscience of the weaker brother. If he can't do something by faith it becomes sin to him if he violates his own conscience.
With all this in mind, the stronger brother is given some tips for not being selfish. Instead, the weaker brother will be helped. Actually all of us are helpful if we follow these directions.
SET SOME GOALS - Vss. 1-2
There will always be weaker brethren in a thriving Christian church.
There will be those weak because they are new Christians.
There will be those weak because of sin habits.
There will be those weak because of poverty.
There will be those weak due to personal sickness, sickness of a loved one, or loss of a loved one.
There will be those weak due to immaturity.
There will be those weak due to weak conscience.
There will be those who are emotionally weak.
With this in mind there are two goals we should have for our behavior towards weaker brethren.
1. We are to bear the infirmities of the weak. (Vs. 1) When we do we will not please ourselves. Galatians 6:2
When we bear the burdens of others we will pray for them, listen to them, spend time with them, help them financially, and support them during tragedies.
2. We are to please our neighbors. (Vs. 2) This means I am to work at edifying or building up that Christian brother or sister for his or her own good.
I can build up that person by not offending him with my own strength and by sharing with him what God is teaching me. I can also build up that neighbor by being a model of Christ centered living.
SEE THE SCRIPTURES - Vss. 3-4
1. I can look to Scripture for the model of Christ. This verse refers to the sacrifice of Christ for my sin. He took the reproach for sin that should have been mine. Christ did not please himself on the cross, but was concerned with the good of the world. I can follow this example of unselfish living, and the other examples that Christ set.
2. We can also learn from all the examples found in Scripture. This verse, I believe, specifically refers to the Old Testament, but is applicable to the New Testament as well. In the Old Testament we learn of:
The example of Abraham willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac
The example of Hosea who accepted being married to a harlot so God could make a point
The example of Moses who continually interceded for the rebellious Israelites
And there are many more examples for us to follow from the Scriptures that will teach us how to deal with weaker people.
SHOOT (AIM) FOR UNITY - Vss. 5-6
Vs. 5 - The God of patience can and will make you patient, if you let Him.
The God of consolation will help you to console others, if you let Him.
The word likeminded here means to think the same thing.
We will think the same thing when we seek to be patient instead of getting our own way.
We will think the same thing when we seek to console others instead of criticizing them.
Vs. 6 - Notice here what brings glory.
When we have one mind and one mouth within a congregation, we are bringing glory to God. Psalm 133:3
The church is a single unit. It is a team. It is individuals working together.
Therefore, shoot for unity!
SEEK TO ACCEPT - Vs. 7
The key word here is "receive". The word means "take to one's self". It means to take a special interest on the part of the receiver. It suggests a welcome.
We are to receive others as Christ has received us. Christ accepted us with no strings attached. It is about time that you and I started to seek to accept others this same way.
We may not agree on every point of doctrine.
We may not agree on every point of separation.
We may not agree about who our closest friends are.
We may not even care particularly for the person's personality.
But when a person is sincerely born again, we need to accept them as Christ accepted us.
I've met quite a few optimists in my time and probably far more pessimists and cynics. I like optimists better because they tend to lift me up. Pessimists tend to drag me down with them.
Like anywhere else, in the church there are both optimists and pessimists.
Often a pessimist will hold a church back with it's gloom and doom while an optimist will get the church to think and act in positive ways.
Now, I'll admit that there are times when Christians are unrealistically optimistic. But by and large, I feel that we Christians are not optimistic enough.
Why should Christians be optimistic? It's because of a little four letter word called "hope". Hope is something that God provides for the Christian. Romans 5:1-2, Romans 5:5, Romans , 1 Corinthians
Now when we think of the word hope, we often think of somebody doing some wishful thinking, like "I hope I get that raise," or "I hope I pass that test", or "I hope the Pirates win the World Series," or "I hope Mom serves apple pie for dessert."
But according to James
Montgomery Boice, in the Bible the word hope means certainty. Boice says,
the only reason it is called hope rather than certainty is that we do
not possess what is hoped for yet, although we will." James Montgomery
Boice, Romans, Volume 2, ©1992 by Baker Book House,
It is my desire that this church would be full of Christian optimists. Christian optimists have a tremendous impact on other Christians and on unsaved people. Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Peter 3:15
If we are going to be Christian optimists we need to know something about hope. This morning I'd like to encourage you that:
WE NEED TO ASK IN HOPE
Now, you probably already know that faith is a requirement for answered prayer. James 1:5-8, Mark
If we are going to see God answer our prayers, we certainly need to pray in faith. I think of hope as an extension of faith. First we believe that God is going to answer our prayers, and then we look forward to the answer. 1 John 5:14-15
When we ask for something that is the will of God, we believe that God will answer the prayer and we are also confident. I believe that confidence is akin to hope! If I am not confident I don't have hope. If I am confident, I have hope.
WE NEED TO ACT IN HOPE
The way we act should be a reflection of our hope.
If we are Christians we should want other people to become Christians too. Therefore we will want to act in such a way that will bring others to Christ and encourage other Christians. Matthew 5:14-16
The first way to impact others for Christ is to preach a sermon to them. I mean a sermon of actions, not a sermon of words. Let them see your good works of acting the way a Christian should and they will glorify God because of you.
Christians are also supposed to use their words for Christ, but people will not listen to you unless your words are backed up by your life's actions. 1 Peter 3:15
As people see in your actions the hope that Jesus gives, they will want to hear your words. As you live a godly life, people will ask you the secret of your hope in Christ.
And our actions of living and witnessing for Christ will be blessed! Psalm 126:6
The precious seed is God's Word. As we sow it in tears, we will reap results in joy. It might be the joy of a soul saved or the joy of a Christian who was helped to grow.
Christian, when you act in hope, you live and speak for Christ.
WE NEED TO ABIDE IN HOPE
The Christian has a very special hope.
The Christian's very special hope is that Jesus is coming. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
We are to look forward to the coming of our Lord Jesus.
And we need to realize that Jesus could come at any time. Luke 12:40
Looking forward to the Lord's coming is to affect our behavior and our attitude.
Titus 2:11-13 - The blessed hope of the Christian is the return of Christ. It is His glorious appearing. If you are looking forward to his coming you need to deny ungodliness. Ungodliness is simply anything God does not approve of. There should be no time for it in your life.
If you are looking forward to his coming, you should also deny worldly lusts. Worldly lusts are those desires that get out of hand and cause us to sin. In 1 John 2 they are described as the "lust of flesh", the "lust of the eyes" and the "pride of life".
If you are looking forward to Jesus coming, you're sober or serious about your behavior.
If you are looking forward to Jesus' coming, you're doing what is right or righteous. How would you feel if Jesus returned and He caught you doing something that did not please Him?
If you are looking forward to Jesus' coming, you are doing what pleases God or what is like God. Your standard of behavior is high. That's godliness.
The coming of Jesus for you should be such a blessed hope, that you look forward to His coming and want your life to be in order when He arrives!
WE NEED TO ABOUND IN HOPE
Romans - Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
First of all notice that God is the God of hope.
God is the one who is responsible for hope.
The reason you have hope at all is because of what Jesus did for you on the cross. Jesus died for you there. Because of His death and your faith in Christ, you have hope!
God made the plan that made your hope possible. He is the God of hope.
Notice two essential things that God wants you to have.
God wants you to have joy.
God wants you to have peace.
And He doesn't want you to have just a little joy.
And He doesn't want you to have a little peace.
He wants you to be filled with joy!
He wants you to be filled with peace! John 15:11, John 14:27
Joy and peace come in believing! If you trust Jesus enough to obey Him, you will be filled with joy. If you trust Jesus enough to pray and cast all your care upon Him, you will be filled with peace. If you are filled with joy and peace, you will abound with hope. Hope appears to be a result of our joy and peace! But hope is also the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The fruit of the Spirit includes both joy and peace. The filling of the Spirit also fills me with hope.
God wants you and I to abound in hope, and He helps us to do this through His Holy Spirit!