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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that with one purpose and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us, for the glory of God.”—Romans 15:5–7 (NASB)
We have all heard the expression “survival of the fittest.” Basically, the strong survive while the weaker or less adaptable perish. While it does exist in nature (and is often beneficial in strengthening an ecosystem or species), it isn’t God’s design for His Church. He would rather us fit together and thrive.
In the latter part of his letter to the Romans, Paul turns his attention to the practical application of the gospel. Chapter 12 begins with the idea of presenting ourselves as a holy, living sacrifice and then continues with the many ways we can do that. Chapter 15 pulls it all together as Paul fine tunes the picture of what Church community looks like. Paul’s prayer in today’s Scripture is that we have the same perseverance, encouragement, and mind of Christ. As we allow Jesus to transform our lives, we imitate Him in our humility, grace, and willingness to be patient with one another, especially with those who are weaker or new to the faith.
Our natural proclivity is to align ourselves with the strong and avoid the weak. But this isn’t what Jesus did. His divine nature was to pursue the weak and the lost. As Christians, we’re called to have the same mind which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). Therefore, we bear up those who need strength and make their well-being as important to us as it is to Jesus.
Look at it this way: If you’re a parent with a toddler, you don’t fashion your house as an obstacle course with sharp edges and tenuous heights. You don’t criticize your child as she falls ten times in a row. No, you clear away the clutter, cover the outlets, and bar the stairs. You encourage her with praise and help her to stand. It’s the same idea Paul proposes—accept those who are young in their faith and don’t cast judgment over trivial matters (Romans 14:1). We show grace and deference, not esteeming ourselves over others, but associating with the lowly (Romans 12:3; 16). We allow the same sanctification process that God did in our lives to take place in theirs.
It’s been said that grace given is grace bestowed. The same grace God gave us should be granted to others, thereby glorifying the author of our faith; for it pleases God when His people live together in unity (Psalm 133:1).
Grace is the epicenter of Christian community; our hearts are established in it (Hebrews 13:9). Understanding our own fallen nature and depravity ought to inspire awe of His mercy towards us and move us to extend it to others. By God’s grace we survive and by extension we thrive.
Pause: What does it mean to have the mind of Christ?
Practice: To what degree do you accept, forgive, and love others? Do you think someone has to earn your forgiveness, acceptance, or love? Take some time to consider how none of us deserve any of that from Jesus, but that He gave it freely.
Pray: Lord, there are no words I can use to express how amazed I am and how thankful I am for Your grace. To honor, please, and glorify You, I want to live out that grace in my life and extend it to others. Help me to have Your heart and mind for those around me. For Your sake. Amen.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.