who is weak, and i am not weak? who is made to fall, and i am not indignant? [2 corinthians 11:29]
do you suffer well with your brothers and sisters in Christ? are you so connected in the Spirit that you feel what they feel when they endure hardship? if i’m being honest about my own life, i’d say sure…if i’m close to them. and then other Christians, not so much.
there are a host of reasons why we might dismiss the hardship, struggles, temptations, and offenses of other believers, here’s a short and by no means comprehensive, but probably familiar list:
- they always seem to be struggling with something
- we are also struggling
- their struggle doesn’t seem as bad as yours
- no one seems to care about your problems
- you don’t care about their problems
- you’re sick of the recurring sins of others
any of these sound familiar?
but what paul is saying above is that when other believers are weak, he is also weak, when they are offended or tempted to sin, he is filled with fiery anger. i can safely say that i do not often feel these emotions on behalf of my fellow believers, do you? i hope the answer is yes.
where we are quick to offer advice, paul was quick to pray, collect a donation, send encouragement, or just show up himself. where we are quick to judge someone’s worthiness to receive our help, paul was quick to offer help simply because they were his brothers and sisters in Christ.
so when we struggle with a fellow brother and sister in Christ, what are we to do? empathize and love. there are no qualifiers to this in scripture. you are not to judge their worthiness of your empathy and love. they are worthy because they have the Spirit. easier said than done, i know, but it is the call.
and you may be asking “am i supposed to fake empathy and love just because the bible tells me so?” well, no. but are you pursuing empathy and love actively? are you asking the Lord in prayer to give you a heart for your brother and sister? are you immersing yourself in scripture for real life examples of how Jesus, and paul, and the apostles loved and empathized with others?
here’s a little secret: you’re not going to come up with empathy and love on your own. you are not. it’s not something you can logic yourself into. you need Christ and his lens with which to see people, yes even other Christians. and your obedient response to his call won’t always make sense to you, in fact it shouldn’t.
get used to radical obedience, my friends.
here’s what i’ll leave you with, and i would recommend highlighting this verse in your bible. this is a chapter labeled “the example of Christ”:
we who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. [romans 15:1]
jesus, help us to daily follow paul’s example of how to walk with our brothers and sisters in you. give us a desire to love and empathize with them, give us a heart more like yours. amen.
~ erin boettge