We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (1-6).
The life of faith is a marathon. Although certain aspects of faith may grow easier or more ‘natural’ as we mature in our walk with Jesus, walking with Jesus is always countercultural. The life view of people without the spark of Jesus within them is always at odds with people following Jesus... thus Paul’s call to endurance.
Endurance, keeping at it, never giving up or giving in, standing our ground… the word pictures and descriptors are endless. Do I, do you, have the metal to stand with Jesus all the days of our life… no matter what life brings our way?
Jesus is both the model of endurance and the Giver of strength to endure…
There is a second prominent ‘E’ in today’s reading… encouragement.
Returning to my marathon example… imagine completing a marathon without hearing one word of encouragement. As difficult as a marathon is, not hearing one cheering fan, one positive word from a coach, a friend, a family member; not seeing one smiling face. Imagine running a marathon on a deserted course all by yourself. Oh, my, how much more difficult that would be!
Paul says, Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. That encouragement. And again, May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other…
The encouragement of others keeps us going when we are lacking the same strength within ourselves… And the point, help others endure.
As I consider this ‘E’ word, I am wondering who might I encourage today… How about you? Who might you encourage to keep on with Jesus?
Lord use my words, my smile, my ‘atta boy’ to help someone toward the finish life of faith, walking and enduring with You. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.