Good Tidings

Christmas is Sunday. The day we celebrate Christ’s birth. Whether or not some aspects of the way we celebrate have pagan roots or Christ’s birth was sometime in the Spring instead of Winter make for trivial and inconsequential debate. The fact is, Christ was born. We celebrate that birth. Proof that He was born King of kings, Lord of lords, and Prince of peace lies in the fact that even the heathen and pagan traditions have become His and unbelievers the world over still celebrate His coming. He came to save His lost sheep. He came to reveal the truth. He came to preach freedom to captives. He came to heal the deaf, mute, sick, dumb, and lame. He came to save the world and not condemn it. The Gospel is the story of the world’s salvation in Christ alone. When we look at Romans 15, we see the application of the Scriptural doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone. Paul, writing in light of the birth and life of Jesus (1:3), prescribes how those who are strong in the faith ought to relate to those who are weak in the faith.

I remember starting in ministry, the idea is somehow common because I hear it from immature pastors all the time, thinking that I was doing what I was doing to serve God not man. In my thinking, I was there to say what needed to be said from Scripture even if it would not be received well. I built a pretty good ministry as a dissenting voice for the purpose of “defending sound doctrine,” or what I thought sound doctrine was. The more confrontational I was, the more people loved it… if what I said resonated with them. I built a blog ministry that has more than 30,000 readers annually. I did so by being confrontational on certain hot topics—being uneasy and edgy and sometimes disregarding how it might have been perceived. The more confrontational I was, the more I was invited to other countries and the bigger my ministries became. I was serving God, not men. If I was serving people, I certainly wasn’t going to be a people pleaser—the phrase left a foul taste in my mouth. I was speaking to thousands of people with the click of a button, and it wasn’t worth it. With my lips, I praised God. I thought I was close to Him because of my knowledge and willingness to stand unapologetically for His truths. But, my heart was far from Him. In Romans 15, Paul reminds me that Christ did not please Himself but, instead, bore the reproaches of His own. If Christ bore the reproaches of others instead of pleasing Himself, why was I concerned only about speaking my message instead of bearing the reproaches of my brothers and sisters in the faith?

In the context of Romans 15, Paul is addressing those who are strong—those who do not abstain from food and drink—regarding their treatment of those who are weak—those who abstain from food and drink. Those who are strong, those who don’t feel they have to abstain from food or drink or consider one day to be holier than another (cf. 14:2-5, 16-17) because salvation is not by our works but Christ’s, ought to bear the weaknesses of those in the faith without this strength–not knowing the liberty that is in Christ. What does it mean for strong Christians to bear the burdens of weak Christians? Paul tells us; we don’t just live to please ourselves. So, there is a sense in which taking pleasure in the good gifts of God is a good thing. God desires we enjoy His good gifts. But, that is not our only agenda. So, off the cuff, to insist that we serve God, not men, is in one way opposite of the instruction we receive in Scripture. Paul not only instructs Christians to serve their neighbors, but to please them for their good. We don’t live merely to take joy in the good things of God or promote ourselves. We also live in Christ to please our neighbors, perhaps even please our neighbors before we please ourselves. I spent far too much time in the ministry not understanding the second part of this equation. Not only do we serve and please God, we serve and please others–even those who are weakest and understand the least in the faith we have been given. Paul mentions nothing about being confrontational or making sure others believe and think the way we do or addressing every misconception. Life is not about self. Ministry, thus, is the highest level of self-denial for the edification of the weaker saints. We bear their burdens, which means a great many things. The goal is always edification so that weaker saints may not be left in their weakness but grow in their understanding and application of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. Christ came to set us free.

Look at Paul’s words. Christ did not live to please Himself. He literally took the weakness of His people upon Himself and took it to the cross. Jesus was controversial, so there is a time and place for that. Christ said some things that hurt others and exercised His anger in the Temple complex. When He did, I have to believe that it was, ultimately, to edify His people rather than merely be controversial or confrontational. Through the Scriptures, His word, we all have hope, down to the weakest Christian. You watch most Christmas movies that talk about faith, hope, or belief, and at the end you are left asking, “in what.” It’s never so clear because the only answer that makes any sense is “Jesus.” Because strong and weak Christians alike are focused on Christ, we can be of the same mind even though we are all at different places in our sanctification. What does it mean to be of the same mind? Too many Christians want everyone in their sphere to be like them, else perhaps not be very Christian. Unity is not uniformity. Look at the text, unity of mind means we are all trying to live like Jesus–who was born, died, and rose for the edification of others. If we are trying to build one another up, how can we possibly be divided and tear one another down? It is impossible to do both.

Therefore, we accept one another. The strong accept the weak. The weak accept the strong. Christ became a servant. In our conversion to Christ, we all become servants–nothing worth boasting about and nothing that can make us conceited. Such truth just takes me back to the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control. Because Jesus was born once for all, we can be born again and receive the Holy Spirit as the seal of our salvation and hope. As we become more mature in Christ, we bear the fruit of the Spirit. In the true Spirit of Christmas, we say with all sincerity, “Good tidings to all.”

Romans 15:1-7


15.1 Ὀφείλομεν δὲ ἡμεῖς οἱ δυνατοὶ τὰ ἀσθενήματα τῶν ἀδυνάτων βαστάζειν, καὶ μὴ ἑαυτοῖς ἀρέσκειν.  2 ἕκαστος ἡμῶν τῷ πλησίον ἀρεσκέτω εἰς τὸ ἀγαθὸν πρὸς οἰκοδομήν·  3 καὶ γὰρ ὁ Χριστὸς οὐχ ἑαυτῷ ἤρεσεν· ἀλλὰ καθὼς γέγραπται· Οἱ ὀνειδισμοὶ τῶν ὀνειδιζόντων σε ἐπέπεσαν ἐπʼ ἐμέ.  4 ὅσα γὰρ προεγράφη, εἰς τὴν ἡμετέραν διδασκαλίαν ἐγράφη, ἵνα διὰ τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως τῶν γραφῶν τὴν ἐλπίδα ἔχωμεν.  5 ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ τῆς παρακλήσεως δῴη ὑμῖν τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν ἐν ἀλλήλοις κατὰ Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν,  6 ἵνα ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐν ἑνὶ στόματι δοξάζητε τὸν θεὸν καὶ πατέρα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.  7 Διὸ προσλαμβάνεσθε ἀλλήλους, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς προσελάβετο ὑμᾶς, εἰς δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ.


1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.

2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.

3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”

4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,

6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

Leave a Reply