Bearing with your brother

“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Romans 15.1.

A dear brother in the Lord once confided how difficult and unreasonable one of his siblings was.  Every complaint of the brother was more than justified, because his sibling was indeed not only less capable, but in fact irresponsible, inconsiderate and even selfish, a family member who seems to contribute more trouble and burdens than help.  The brother made much sacrifice both financially and emotionally for the sake of this sibling.

But after pouring out all the hard feelings with sufferings he had to experience, the brother summarized by saying: “but I have no way to escape, because he is my brother and I am his keeper.”

Now what the brother said captures the essence of family love. In the society, people seek for fairness. But in the family, it is not about fairness but about love in destiny. “Life is never fair” — Without love, this is a cynical statement. But with love, this is just family reality without bitterness.

So is God’s family, in fact even more so because this family is for eternity. We are destined to love each other. So how can we complain about having to bear with each other?

In Christ, we are called to wear the righteousness of God, and this is the basis of our salvation. But in Christ, we are further called to bear the weakness and even wrongs of others.

We wear God’s righteousness as we received it as a gift, and have no reason to complain about it (only the unsaved see God’s righteousness as a burden instead of a blessing). But we also bear the weakness and even wrongs of our fellow brothers and sisters by God’s command, and only in maturity do we see such burden not as a reason to complain, but a reason to give thanks for an opportunity to fellowship with our Lord and his people.

Let us not seek to please ourselves, because seeking to please one’s self will never be satisfying nor will it ever be actually achieved. For “even Christ did not please Himself.” Romans 15.3.

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