The apostle Paul continues in this chapter his plea for mutual affection and unity among believers. He is not talking of unity among all religious people. Our Lord condemned those who sought acceptance with God by their own righteousness, saying, "Leave them alone, they are blind leaders, whited sepulchres." Paul would not tolerate those who departed from the gospel. "If any man preach ANY OTHER GOSPEL, let him be accursed." Paul is pleading for love and forbearance among those who know and love the Redeemerwho find their peace and hope in the sacrifice of Christ.
(Vs. 1) "We then that are strong." These mature, believers are NOT STRONG IN THEMSELVES (II Cor. 12:10); but they are strong in the FAITH OF CHRISTstrong and sure of their DELIVERANCE IN CHRIST from meats and drinks, the observance of days, and the bondage of ceremonial law.
"Ought to bear with the doubts and fears, the failings and frailties of the weak." Their weakness arises usually from immaturity of faith (babes in Christ) or from a lack of knowledge of their freedom and blessings in Christ. Welcome them, love them (I Peter 4:8; Prov. 10:12), and don't seek only to please yourselves (Gal. 6:1-2); but seek to make all brethren feel wanted, needed, and appreciated.
(Vs. 2) No part of the GOSPEL is to be sacrificed for peace. No part of the REVEALED WORD OF GOD is to be denied to keep weak brethren happy. This would certainly not be for their good or edification. We don't edify a man by encouraging him in doctrinal or moral error. But in the matter of personality, temperament, things indifferent, meats and drinks, we should sacrifice our liberty and rights to make all comfortable and happy, while seeking to instruct one another in the Word.
(Vs. 3) Our Lord sought not His own comfort, ease, profit, nor glory. He subjected Himself to every inconvenience and suffering for the good of His people. If our Lord acted in such a manner, how it ought to condemn us when we indulge our own rights and desires at the expense of the whole family of God! He had no sins; it was for our sins that He was subjected to evil and death. "He was rich, yet He became poor for our sakes." I suppose we should be able to deny ourselves a few personal rights and desires for the general welfare of others.
(Vs. 4) The previous verse (3) is a quotation from Psalm 69:7-9. When the apostle teaches a doctrine or exhorts us to a practice or principle, he proves it by the WORD OF GOD! (II Tim. 3:16-17; I Peter 2:2). We ought to read the Scriptures not to gratify our curiosity or to prove our position but to nourish and increase our hope in Christ (Romans 10:17).
(Vs. 5) In VERSES 5 and 6 Paul offers a prayer for all believers. It would be well for us to spend much time with this prayer!
"Now the God of patience and comfort." This is His attribute. He has been patient and long-suffering with Adam's race, with His church, and with you and me. He has borne our sins, healed our backslidings, and heard our confessions. He has comforted us! Ail real, solid comfort comes from Him against whom we have sinned. He has comforted us in every trial, stood by us through every fall, and encouraged us in every error.
"Grant you to be like-minded one toward another." May God make you patient, long-suffering, forgiving, and a source of comfort to one another.
"According to HIS EXAMPLE." The example is Christ (Eph. 4:30-32). When I have forgiven every wrong against me, when I have borne every hard word or thought, when I have overlooked every weakness and comforted every fallen friend, I still have not endured one atom of what Christ bore FOR me and FROM me! (Matt. 18:21-22.)
(Vs. 6) God is glorified when the perfections of His nature are recognized, when the work of His hands is praised, when His mercy and grace in Christ are received, when His people approach Him in worship and adoration, and when our lives and conversation are agreeable to His calling! How can we glorify Him when we are divided in heart, spirit, and doctrine?
(Vs. 7) "Wherefore receive one another" into your hearts and affections. Embrace one another, Jew and Gentile, weak and strong, old and young, male and female.
"As Christ received us" just like we wereunlovely, weak, sinful, and having all the infirmities of human nature (Rom. 5:8).
"To the glory of God." This ought to be the motive and chief end of all that we do!