Maintaining Our Unity By The Strong Bearing With The Failings Of The Weak; By Trying To Please Our Neighbors And Not Ourselves; By Having The Same Attitude Toward Each Other That Messiah Had Toward Us; By Not Separating Because Of Differences In Nationality; A Prayer For Peace, Joy And Hope
Because we come from a fallen race, alienated from God and alienated from one another, it’s hard for people to get along with others. We disagree with someone and want to end our relationship with him. Messiah’s Community needs to be different. We need to work hard at maintaining our unity – and it isn’t always easy.
Previously, the Rabbi challenged the Christians and Messianic Jews in Rome to maintain their unity based on understanding the difference between essentials and non-essentials, disputable matters and indisputable matters. Here, he continues asking them to maintain their unity by not pleasing themselves and by bearing with the failings of the weak. We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. There are those who are weaker and those who are stronger in faith; weaker and stronger in intellect; weaker and stronger in endurance; weaker and stronger in courage; weaker and stronger in the ability to resist temptation.
It’s easy to want to avoid someone who is weaker in faith, intellect, courage, or the ability to resist temptation. To focus on yourself and not the weak person’s problems. We are not to do that. We are to do the opposite. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. When we see people who are weaker than we are, who are struggling with problems, we don’t avoid them because we don’t want our life complicated by their problems. No, we get involved with them and try to help them and build them up – even if it costs us. We try to please them and not please ourselves. We build them up in their areas of weakness – just like Messiah, who is the Perfect Example, did for us. For even Messiah did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
Messiah, who is the strongest of the strongest, looked at humanity, weak and full of problems, and instead of pleasing Himself and avoiding us and our problems, got involved with us and our problems – even though it diminished His pleasure; even though it cost Him dearly. The Son of God left the pleasures of Heaven, and weakened Himself by coming a man. He got involved with us, and helped us and built us up. And by doing that, He suffered and was insulted – just as Psalm 69 described: The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
Just as David, the author of Psalm 69, who was very strong, served God and his nation, and as a result suffered opposition and insults, so did David’s heir, Messiah Yeshua. He served God and His nation and suffered opposition and insults. And all of Messiah’s suffering, all of the insults He endured, was worth it, wasn’t it? It was – for Him and for us. And that is what God wants from us. We are to be like courageous firefighters, who, while others are running from the fire, run to the fire. We are to be like the courageous police, who, while others are running from dangerous situations, run to the dangerous situations. We go to the person with the problems, not away from the person with the problem – even if it costs us. We help him, not ignore him – even if we suffer for it.
As he has done so often in this letter, the Rabbi quoted from the Word of God to reinforce his teaching – in this case Psalm 69. The Lord’s Representative wants us to know that everything in the Tenach – the Torah and the Prophets and the Writings – is designed by God to teach us valuable lessons. 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. Everything in the Old Testament Scriptures is designed to teach us valuable lessons, especially how to endure life in a fallen world; and the Old Testament Scriptures do something else – they provide us encouragement; and the endurance and encouragement the Word of God is able to give us produces hope in us.
Endurance to make it successfully to the end of life; constant encouragement along the way; hope. These are great things. Makes me really want to learn the Old Testament Scriptures. How about you?
The Rabbi strengthens his teaching about the need for us to maintain our unity with a prayer for unity. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement (through the Word of God; through friends and family; through brothers and sisters in Messiah’s Community; through His Spirit; and through other ways) give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Messiah Yeshua had (an attitude of love and acceptance), so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
It’s so nice when we get along and work together to advance the Kingdom of God and honor the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah together. Hinay ma tov u’ma-na-eem, shevet achim gam yachad! How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity!
How do we live together in unity?
By knowing the difference between essentials and non-essentials and by focusing on the essentials, not the non-essentials.
By the strong bearing with the failings of the weak.
By trying to please our neighbors, and not ourselves.
By having the same attitude toward each other that Messiah had toward us – an attitude of love and acceptance. Messiah loved us and accepted us even though we were unlovable and unacceptable. He responded to our unloveableness and unacceptableness with grace and love and care and concern and help and acceptance.
How do we get along and work together to advance the Kingdom of God and honor the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah together? By not separating because of differences in nationality. It can be difficult for people from different nationalities to get along. In our day, differences between Blacks and Whites and Hispanics are causing difficulties in our nation; and difficulties in the Church. In Messiah’s Community in Rome, it seems that there were difference between the Messianic Jews and the Christians from the other nations that were causing difficulties.
The way to deal with difficulties that come from differences in nationality: be like Messiah. Accept one another, then, just as Messiah accepted you. Messiah accepted the Jewish people and He accepted the peoples from the nations. He accepted the Jews and He accepted the Gentiles. Nationality made no difference to Him. We are to follow His example.
When everyone in Messiah’s Community accepts everyone else; when broken, fractured, divided human beings are able to come together in Messiah’s New And United Humanity, God is pleased. God is honored. God is praised. Accept one another, then, just as Messiah accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. And the opposite is true: our inability to accept people from other nationalities displeases God; dishonors God; takes away praise from God. And we want to praise and honor God, not dishonor Him and diminish the praise He is due, right? So, we need to accept one another.
Human beings are not used to relating to others like this. Who gives us inspiration to do this? Who do we look to as an example? Messiah. For I tell you that Messiah has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
Messiah became a servant of the Jewish people. How? By advancing the truth; by fulfilling the prophecies; by becoming a Son of David; by living a perfect life; by dying an atoning death; by overcoming death. He served the Jewish people by doing these things, so that the great promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob could be fulfilled.
Messiah became a servant of the Jewish people; and He also became a servant of the Gentiles. Before Yeshua, the peoples of the nations were far from the mercy and salvation of God; now, because of what Yeshua did, when the peoples from the nations become loyal to Yeshua, they can enjoy God’s mercy and His salvation. Messiah served the Gentiles.
Messiah loved and accepted the Jews and He loved and accepted the Gentiles. Messiah helped and served the Jews and He helped and served the Gentiles. Messiah loved, accepted, served and helped all peoples; all nations. We must too. We must follow His example. This means that there is absolutely no place in Messiah’s Community for racism; for prejudice against those from other nationalities.
Again, the Rabbi reinforces his teaching by quoting the Word of God. Because it is so important for Messianic Jews and Christians from the other nations to get along, for everyone in Messiah’s Community to get along with all the other nationalities in Messiah’s Community (and there are a lot of nationalities), Paul doesn’t quote from the Word of God once, twice or even three times. He quotes the Scriptures four times – which means that he is very strongly reinforcing his point.
As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.” This is from 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18. Here we have David, a Jewish man, wanting to praise God among the nations for saving him from his enemies. A Jew and the Gentiles being involved in praising God together.
Next is a quote from Moses in Deuteronomy 32. Again, it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.” In the song of Moses, given to the Jewish people at the end of his life, Moses called on the Gentiles to rejoice with the Jewish people because God would save His people and destroy His enemies. Again, Jews and Gentiles rejoicing together because of God.
And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.” This is a quote from Psalm 117. The Jewish poet calls on all of the nations to praise the God of Israel, as the Jewish people had been doing. Jews and Gentiles praising God together.
And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.” This is taken from the great Messianic prophecy found in Isaiah 11. A time is coming when the Messiah will rule Israel and the nations. The whole world, Jews and Gentiles will be ruled by King Messiah. All will believe in the Lord and serve Him together.
The Rabbi’s point? Jews and Gentiles, everyone, all the members of the body of Messiah, no matter what nationality, are to accept one another; get along with one another; serve and praise the Lord together. No racism. No anti-Semitism. No prejudice. No animosity based on nationality.
Paul ends this section on the need for us to maintain our unity with a prayer. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith deals with the past, the present or the future. Hope deals exclusively with the future. Hope is having faith that something good will happen in the future.
We need hope for something good to happen in the future because of the reality of our situation. It’s not good. Apart from the salvation made possible by the Three-In-One God of Israel, humanity is utterly hopeless. We are alienated from God who is the source of life. We are dominated by dark, demonic powers; we share their destiny of doom. We are headed to death, not life; to Hell, not Heaven.
Nothing that human beings can do can change that outcome. Only the God of Israel can change that hopeless future and give lost and dying human beings hope – which is why Paul calls God, “the God of Hope.”
What is our hope? Being rescued from the forces of Satan, sin, the sin nature and death. Living forever in the New Heavens, the New Earth and the New Jerusalem with the Three-In-One God, and with the sons and daughters of God, and with the good angels. Eternal happiness; peace; safety; security; health; wealth uncountable; being wise and righteous and honorable and glorious.
This is our hope. It is a real hope. It is a great hope. It is a sure hope. It will happen. Let me tell you what is not our hope: more money; better politics and politicians; advances in science and technology; these are small hopes, pale hopes, hopes that may not be realized, hopes that may disappoint. Therefore we need to focus our minds on this true and great hope.
Even though hope deals with the future, hope has a beneficial impact on us in the present. Hope produces joy and peace. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
May the God of hope fill you will joy. Not just joy, but all joy; fulness of joy; complete, total joy; a joy not dependent on circumstances.
May the God of hope fill you will peace. Not just peace, but all peace, fulness of peace; a peace not dependent on circumstances.
Hope. Not just a little hope, but overflowing with hope; hope that is so full it overflows. It keeps on flowing and flowing and flowing.
What do we do to be filled with joy, peace and hope? We trust God. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him. We believe in God. We have confidence in Him. We trust Him and His promises. We fill our minds and hearts with the truths about God and His promises from the Word of God. If we lack trust in God or His word, we go to those people, those books, those resources, that will help us trust God and His Word. And those people, those books, those resources are there. That’s our part. That’s our responsibility. To trust in God. Then the Holy Spirit will do His part. He will give us hope, and great peace and great joy.
Lord, we acknowledge that humanity is broken, fractured, divided, difficult, angry. We find it hard to get along with others, who disagree with us or who are different from us.
Help those of us who are part of Messiah’s Community; the one new man; this new, united humanity, to be different.
Help us honor You by getting along with each other; serving and praising You together; striving to maintain our unity.
Help those of us who are strong bear with the failings of the weak, and not turn away from them and their problems.
Help us learn to please our neighbors, and not ourselves – like Messiah did.
Enable us to have the same attitude toward each other that Messiah had toward us – an attitude of love and acceptance.
Prevent us from separating because of differences in nationality. Help us be like Messiah who loved and served the Jews and the Gentiles – all peoples, all nations.
God of hope, thank You for our great and true hope. Please fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in You. Help us to overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
If we are lacking in trust in You, help us go to those people and those resources, which You have provided, that will help us grow in trust and confidence in You and Your Word, until we fully trust You and Your Word. Amen.