Love, the universal law, should guide our actions as Christians. We needn’t hesitate to give up privileges, if they hurt the conscience of a young believer.
I imagine that this is how such consideration works in practice – During his earthly ministry, Jesus spoke and walked carefully amongst the mixed multitude, but was freer among his disciples and in his private moments. When you are with those who share the same level of understanding as you, your expressions of freedom do not produce crises of conscience. The people know why you do the things you do. In a mixed crowd however, restraint is advised, as actions may be misconstrued.
It takes effort and practice to constantly put the interests of others before yours –
“Let each one of us make it a practice to please (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him [to strengthen him and build him up spiritually]. For Christ did not please Himself [gave no thought to His own interests]; but, as it is written, The reproaches and abuses of those who reproached and abused you fell on Me.” Romans 15:2-3
There is a harmony that God desires for the church. Unity and love must first begin within us, before we can extend them to those we invite into the fold. Whatever love we nurture internally, is what new believers will feel when they are introduced to church –
“Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,…” Romans 15:5 AMP
“Welcome and receive [to your hearts] one another, then, even as Christ has welcomed and received you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:7 AMP
The writer of Romans reminds us of Jesus’ mission to the Jews. The writer explains why Jesus upheld the Law (while providing glimpses of grace). Until his death & resurrection; when a New Testament was enacted, the dispensation of grace could not be fully offered to Gentiles –
“For I tell you that Christ (the Messiah) became a servant and a minister to the circumcised (the Jews) in order to show God’s truthfulness and honesty by confirming (verifying) the promises [given] to our fathers, And [also in order] that the Gentiles (nations) might glorify God for His mercy [not covenanted] to them. As it is written, Therefore I will praise You among the Gentiles and sing praises to Your name.” Romans 15:8-9 AMP
In the 15th chapter of Romans, the writer touches on the operation of the Holy Spirit. He reveals in verses 13, 19 and 30 how the Holy Spirit gives the believer peace, power and the capacity to love and perform signs & wonders. Paul would expand on the gifts of the Spirit in his letter to the Galatians (chapter 5). The Holy Spirit is a source of hope, joy and peace. I think we can make a demand on him to provide same in our daily lives –
“May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.” Romans 15:13 AMP
I like how the writer very diplomatically and flatteringly establishes his authority among the Gentiles. He appeals to them –
“Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with all [spiritual] knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also. Still on some points I have written to you the more boldly and unreservedly by way of reminder. I have done so because of the grace (the unmerited favor) bestowed on me by God in making me a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. I act in the priestly service of the Gospel (the good news) of God, in order that the sacrificial offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable [to God], consecrated and made holy by the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:14-16 AMP
The writer establishes that material generosity should willingly spring forth on receipt of spiritual gifts. It is not compelled, rather it is done enthusiastically –
“They were pleased to do it; and surely they are in debt to them, for if these Gentiles have come to share in their [the Jerusalem Jews’] spiritual blessings, then they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.” Romans 15:27 AMP
Finally, the writer requests for prayers. This is humbling – the recognition that despite his natural and spiritual gifts, he requires prayers.
PS: You may read about my personal God Walk here. If you would like to develop your own relationship with God, say a simple prayer inviting God to walk with you, then begin to read the Bible. There are several study plans in the YouVersion Bible app.The love we nurture in church, is what new believers feel when they arrive. Click To Tweet