Monday, 6 January 2014
For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” Romans 15:3
To give us an explicit example of how we should act in “disputable matters” Paul refers to the example of Christ Himself. He has just shown that we should “bear with the scruples of the weak” and not attempt to merely please ourselves. In essence, “Is our temporary gratification worth bringing discord between saved believers?” Rather, we should be willing to let these things rest and to instead serve for the sake of Christ and not self.
In substantiation of this, He cites the 9th verse of the 69th Psalm –
“Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.”
John 2:17 refers directly to this same verse and applies it to the time when Jesus cleared the temple. He was interested in the honor of God, not pleasing Himself. And this is seen throughout the rest of His ministry. When He was tired, He still served others. When He was hungry, He never failed to make sure others were fed. When He faced the agony of the cross, He asked that His Father’s will, not His, would be done.
And throughout it all, He received reproach and contempt. If He was doing the will of the Father, then the contempt was directed ultimately toward the Father, but it instead fell on Him. This then is our example. If our actions and conduct are correct and in line with Scripture and yet someone finds fault in them, then ultimately they are finding fault in the One who authored Scripture. But in order to glorify the Lord, we should let the reproaches of those who reproach Christ fall on us.
By doing this, Christ was able to change hearts and minds. And that is exactly what we are asked to do. Through our willingness to not argue over these disputable matters, we will ultimately be able to change the weaker brother to understand what is right and acceptable. Paul will show us this in the coming verses. Our actions are to be with the intent and purpose of bringing the body to a place of harmony, agreement, and of being of one mind, even in disputable matters.
In Hebrews 10, we read the following –
“Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come— In the volume of the book it is written of Me— To do Your will, O God.'” Hebrews 10:5-7
Christ Jesus came in a body of flesh to do the will of God. And it was this will of God that was His driving purpose and sole aim. Where “sacrifice and offering” (things mandated under the law) failed to please God, Christ was able to be pleasing. And this is what is expected of us. We can exercise our liberties in Christ and yet not be pleasing to God because of how it affects others.
Life application: Christ is our example. If we can continuously remember this in every thing we do, then we can know how to properly conduct our affairs. Jesus never sacrificed doctrine in order to accommodate others. Nor did He excuse a violation of the law in others. However, He worked within the framework of the law to show us the heart of His Father. This is what we are asked to do within the framework of our Christian liberties.
Lord Jesus, when it seems like the battle is lost, that is when You shine through all the more gloriously. When it seems like there is no hope, I suddenly find safety. And when it looks like only disaster is in my path, You always show something better is ahead. I see that time and again and it proves to me that my trust in You is never futile. Help me to keep my faith in such low times because I know it will be greatly rewarded. Amen.