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Unity of Strong and Weak (42 of 47)
I. Christ as the Example of Selflessness (1-6)
A. Regard for others (1a).
First off, Paul classifies himself as strong by using the word "we." It would have been easy for Paul to speak instructions but never take and practice them in his own life. He has the attitude of, "Not only am I telling you this, but I am also trying to practice it in my own life."
The word "ought" is a Greek word that means, "owing a debt to someone," so in other words it is not simply a suggestion. It is not saying you have a choice in the matter. If you are a Christian then you need to be practicing this.
The word "bear" means to pick up and carry a burden. The use of these two words gives the idea that we are not simply to tolerate the weaknesses of the other believers, but instead help them carry those burdens. We are not to be critical or condescending, but by showing respect for sincere views or practices that we may not agree with. It is the idea of what Paul wrote in Phil 2:3-4 which says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
The injunction here is for mature believers to voluntarily and lovingly refrain from doing things that might offend the conscious of a new or immature believer. The idea is that of showing genuine, loving, and practical consideration for other believers. We are not to argue about minor issues or be critical of those who may still be sensitive about a former religious practice or taboo. Look over real quick with me to 1 Cor. 9:19-22 and see what Paul had to say to the church at Corinth on this same issue:
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became l ...
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