What Do You Think? Wednesday
“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves” (Romans 15:1).
I’ve both embraced and shunned that verse, heralding my strong black woman mantle then tossing it when I can’t take the ‘be everything to everyone’ pressure anymore. This was my act of balancing extremes, seeking to be what was expected and retreating, knowing I could never do all that was expected of me. Many of us live this schizophrenic reality, only available to those of us who seek to allow others’ definitions and even our self-generated definitions to direct our actions and paths. But this verse doesn’t speak to strong black women who have fought on their own accord, defeating the worries and needs of family and ills of society. This verse speaks to all people who have had the privilege of God’s grace in their lives to be spiritually mature. This maturity enables believers to put others’ needs above their own, not for some self-seeking martyrdom but for the glory of God’s Kingdom. Since this is the case, we must understand 1) what strong means; 2) for what reasons we are to embrace this strength; and 3) how we are to exhibit this strength. I will discuss each of these in separate blog posts starting today with “What Does It Mean to Be Strong?”
In order to answer the question, “what does it mean to be strong?” in the context of Romans 15, we have to look at Romans 14 for our answer. Here the Apostle Paul talks about how believers should deal with those who are “weak in faith.” By default we know that the believers Paul is guiding are those who are strong in faith. To be weak in faith here means to be doubtful about what Christians can and cannot do. So those “who are strong” in Romans 15:1 and implied throughout Romans 14 are those who have no doubts about what freedoms in Christ they have. They are firm in conviction and faith, assured of their beliefs and confident in their trust that Jesus Christ is Lord and that they have eternal salvation through Him. Those who allow this type of strength to guide them operate based on their convictions that don’t go contrary to God’s word and in faith in the One who gives and sustains all life, physical and spiritual. This is the strength that the Bible is calling us to seek. Spiritual maturity is biblical strength.
Focusing on Jesus as the One who gives and sustains all life helps us to remember that we can’t give life to anyone or sustain anyone’s life; we are vessels that God chooses to use as facilitators between Him and others. We who are strong need to know this: when we forget that we are facilitators and not life sustainers, we cross over from biblical strength into human-defined strength and are left helpless, hopeless and totally spent. Operating in our own strength and not biblical strength is the reason we shift from taking up our strong black woman mantle to dropping it; we were never meant to carry that mantle and doing so will cause us to inevitably drop it. But with an eye focused on biblical strength, God will sustain us as we work to facilitate on His behalf. A part of our facilitating includes embracing biblical strength for the benefit of immature believers. More on that next time, but for now why not comment on the following?
How does knowing the difference between biblical strength and human-defined strength impact you? Please, tell me what you think.
In the next post, explore with me the reasons we are to embrace biblical strength.