Romans 15:2 (NIV)
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
Our Verse of the Day offers us more relational advice. Again, the context regards our relationships with others … our neighbors … and how we can live for their good as well as our own. I think we should review the context again because of its importance to the application of our walk with Jesus:
Romans 15:1-7 (NIV)
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. (Refer to Romans 14 concerning those who have religious sensibilities.) Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please Himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” (Citing Psalm 69:9) For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
What I see in the context here is that Paul is urging us as believers to be patient with and to help non-believers … non-Christians … in their walk with God. To be sure, Paul is focused on his fellow Jews and their need to receive Jesus as Lord and Messiah; but the principles apply to ALL non-believers. Paul emphasizes that the mercy shown to non-Jews (Gentiles) is evidence of the desire of God for ALL people to place their hope in Him and to glorify Him. And we who have received the light of Christ … we who have been born-again of the Spirit of God … are called to bear with the weaknesses of others who have not come to faith in Jesus.
With this goal in mind, I think we need to remember: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4) We see this every day in our culture … in our communities … among our neighbors. This is why we must persevere in prayer for those who are enslaved by their flesh (sinful nature) … for those imprisoned with addictions of all kinds … for those filled with unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger … for those in need of deliverance and healing! And we must excel not only in prayer but in action as well. For even Christ did not live to please Himself! This is why Paul admonishes us to accept people where they are … to find opportunities; to build relationships; and to be witnesses to the light and hope of the Gospel.
2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (NIV)
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” (Citing Genesis 1:3) made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
As we endeavor to live at peace with everyone (Cf. Romans 12:18), we need to realize that living at peace does not mean we should ignore relational engagement; rather, it means our conduct and conversation should be peaceable. It means in the process of pleasing our neighbor, we are called to patience and to be willing to suffer for doing good. (Cf. 1 Peter 3:17) Sometimes, I suppose, that just goes with the territory. But Peter affirmed, “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (Cf. 1 Peter 4:14)
My friends, I believe it is the desire of our Lord Jesus that we should be engaged with our neighbors and those around us. It is our responsibility to seek their good and to build them up regardless of their response to our kindness or reaction to our message. “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Cf. Colossians 4:5-6) For even Christ did not live to please Himself….
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. ~ 1 Peter 3:13-18a