If there is one thing I think we’d all like, whether we admit it or not, it’s the ability to change others. To make others act in a way more palatable or acceptable to us. Maybe it’s bad habits people have. Maybe it’s a fault they have.
The truth is, though, we can’t change people. We can try to bully people, make them feel guilty, or passively aggressively hint that they should change.
But Paul tells us here,
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. (1)
As I’ve mentioned before, this is specifically in reference to those with tender consciences, those who who feel restricted by rules that are not required by God.
As I think of this passage today, however, I think of another application. We may consider other people weak because of their bad habits, faults, etc, and ourselves as strong because we don’t have them. More, we try to make them change, many times not for their own sake or for their own good, but for our own. We’re trying to make others act in a way that pleases us.
But Paul is saying here, we should bear with the failings of those around us. I like how the NASB puts it,
Now we who are strong ought to bear with the weaknesses of those without strength.
Many times as we deal with people, they simply don’t have the strength to change. They may know they should change, but it’s a struggle. And until God gives them that grace and strength, we shouldn’t pressure them, push them, or try to manipulate them.
Rather, as Paul says, we are to,
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (7)
How does Christ accept us? He accepts us in our weakness. I’m sure Christ knows every single fault and weakness that we have. But he does not shove them all in our face and require us to change right here and right now. But rather, he shows patience, love, and mercy. And not only does he show us how to change, he gives us the power to change.
While we may have the ability to show people what needs to change and have ideas on how they can change, we cannot give them the power to change. Only Christ can do that.
So let us show patience, love, and mercy to those around us, and leave the change in their lives to Christ.
And as we do, God will be glorified.