A heart for the weak - is a need in almost every family group / church. Often, we're a long way from the new converts, and a long way from the weak as well. Why would Jesus, day after day with his disciples, spend time with the sick and afflicted? He was trying to instill in them a heart for the weak. Programs and events are great, but . . . we really need a change of heart. We need to start loving the weak.
1 Corinthians 12:14-20
14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?
20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
Back in 1 Cor 11, Paul challenged them because they were divided in their communion service. God created the body the way he wanted it, and the pieces are different. Human groups don't tolerate differences. They're based on common interests. People are very cliquish, and they only want to associate with a few like-minded friends.
We must understand that there is division in our churches because of who we like to fellowship. At the end of the service, who is left standing by himself or herself, all alone in the corner? These are the people that need to go to spiritual recovery. There's a danger of neglect here.
1 Corinthians 12:21-26
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"
22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,
24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it,
25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Sadly, the suffering and honoring don't usually alternate day after day. Typically, one part gets honored day after day, and the other suffers day after day. Can the part of the body that's not suffering feel the suffering of the part that is?
God designed the church. The parts are put together by God. When it comes to the strong, we all agree. When it comes to the weak, though, we're not so sure. He chose the weak for a purpose. As much as the strong give the church structure, the weak give the church heart. If we don't have any weakness in the church, it won't be the church of the living God.
1. Accept the Weak
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.
This is a challenging passage. Accept him whose faith is weak. This tends to tick us off.
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
We hate failure. There is division in the church because the strong don't connect with the weak. We don't want to get involved with failure in people's lives. We build a clique of the strong around us.
2 Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."
Our weak brothers and sisters face insult every day. We can avoid insult because we're sharp. They can't. They get dumped on in the world, and then they get dumped on in the church. Jesus took the insults that were dumped on them, and he took them on himself.
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,
6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
We must accept the weak. This is a heart issue. They are our brothers and sisters. Many fell away simply because they are weak. We who are strong are to fulfill this command. The weak can't fulfill it themselves. It begins with us, simply by accepting the weak. There is weak in any church. That's a fact. Don't resent it, don't fight it. The talented people give the church its structure, but . . . the weak give the church its heart. Are we really people after God's own heart.
2. Understand the Weak
As we're trying to inspire the strong, often we just don't understand the weak. We have to be able to inspire the strong, but still relate to the weak at the same time.
2 Corinthians 11:21-33
21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! What anyone else dares to boast about--I am speaking as a fool--I also dare to boast about.
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I.
23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.
24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,
26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.
27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.
32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me.
33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.
After a long list of his accomplishments, Paul could have alienated his brothers and sisters. Instead, he seizes the opportunity to relate to the weak, to make a connection with them. They all knew that Paul was supposed to preach to kings. At his first opportunity, though, he ran away. He shares that to identify with the weak.
To understand the weak, all we have to do is understand ourselves.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
We can be confused by being surrounded by strong people all the time. What is taught in the church by people watching our example? Is it Biblical?
What makes a person weak? Sometimes, it's just lack of knowledge. Other times, an overactive conscience makes people weak. Guilt feelings. Religious people particularly struggle with legalism and guilt feelings. Weak character after years of compromise can also make somebody weak. Physical handicaps or abnormalities make people weak. Lack of acceptance. Difficult life situations make people weak. Non-christian parents, children.
Bottom-line, every young Christian is weak because of all these things.
1 Corinthians 3:1
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ.
Infants in Christ are weak, they're worldly. Here's the poster child for spiritual recovery:
1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.
3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie--the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.
5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"
7 "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me."
8 Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk."
9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath,
This guy is weak, he's lying by the pool waiting for somebody to help him. Too often, we challenge people like this. "What's your problem?" The weak won't help themselves. God has called on the strong to help the weak. Some people are rebellious, but others lack the faith to change. That's different. Weak people need somebody to help them with their faith.
3. Help the Weak
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Anybody, no matter how weak, can please God if he or she has faith.
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets,
33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,
34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.
36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.
37 They were stoned ; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated--
38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.
40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
vs 34 says their "weakness was turned to strength." We've learned that if we neglect the weak, they'll eventually fall away and leave. We've also learned that the body of Christ will always have some weak. If we take the weak and make them strong, where will the new weakness come from? New converts! God will have no other option except to bless us with new disciples. But if you don't strengthen your weak, they'll fall away and more strong will become weak. If we move the weak to being strong, the church will grow.