God uses each and every Christian in His work. Many times before we respond to God's calling to join Him in His work we must be challenged. In Romans 15:1-13 the apostle Paul challenges believers to serve each other and to work together in unity. We are to set aside willfulness and self-pleasing actions for the sake of building others up for good.
A person that serves is described as:
1. A person that is devoted to helping those who are weaker.
Romans 15:1, We then who are strong ought to bear with the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. This is a large challenge. Paul addresses this challenge to us, who he considers strong. He is addressing those who have a solid grounding in the Scriptures; those who have emerged victorious from crises in their own lives because of their strong faith; and those who are strong because of their maturity in Christian living.
Paul says it is our duty to help those who are weak. The strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak. It is the duty of the stronger Christian to consider and lower themselves to the weakest. We must consider them by realizing they are weaker and not trample over them. We must encourage them by bearing their infirmities. Those strong in the faith should bear the doubts of the weak, because a weaker Christian in the faith will decrease his faith with each doubt he has. When the weaker brother can be shown his doubts are invalid, his faith is restored.
Paul also says those stronger in the faith ought to bear the infirmities of the weak. To bear means to carry; not just put up with or tolerate. We cannot begin to bear someone's burdens until we have sympathy for them and are concerned. Strong Christians have a duty to bear the burdens of the weak, and the weak Christians should be able to expect help from stronger Christians when they have doubts and experience failures. Weaker Christians should not try to bear their own infirmities if they feel their infirmities are pushing them down and destroying their faith. They should ask for help from someone stronger and expect them to provide the needed help.
2. A person that must not please themselves.
Romans 15:1, We then who are strong ought to bear with the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. As a servant it is not our business to gratify all the little appetites and desires of our own heart. This is the key A Christian servant should not be self-centered, but should be concerned about the spiritual welfare of others. The first lesson we must learn to be a servant of Christ is to deny ourselves. Matthew 16:24,Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.
3. A person that pleases his neighbor for his own good.
Romans 15:2, Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. Pleasing our neighbor is not just an end in itself, (not just that they will be happy), but for his edification. When a servant pleases his neighbor in this way it builds them up in Christian graces. We are not to please our neighbor in everything, but for his good; especially the good of his soul. This is the example Jesus Christ left for us. Even He did not please Himself, but He came to do the will of the Father that sent Him. Jesus had no place to lay His head. He lived upon alms. He would not be made a king. He washed His disciples feet. He emptied Himself and made no reputation for Himself. All Christ die was for out sake, for our good, to bring righteousness for us and to set an example. Christ was our perfect example of One challenged to serve others.
How do we learn to be one that serves?
1. Through the example of Christ.
We must bear the infirmities of the weak, for Christ bore the reproaches of those that reproached God. He bore the guilt of sin and the curse for it. We are only called to bear a little of the trouble of sin. He bore the sins of the world. We are only called to bear the infirmities of the weak.
2. Through the Scriptures.
Romans 15:4, For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. The Scriptures are left for a standing rule to us. They are written that they might remain for our use and benefit; for our learning. There are many things to be learned in the Scriptures, but to learn how to be a servant is one of the most important. The example of Christ, in what He said and did, is recorded for our emulation.
3. Through the example of others.
As we have stronger Christians minister to us in our need, and help us to bear our infirmities, we can learn from their example how to minister to others who are weaker.
What are the results of being a servant to others?
1. Romans 15:4, That we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
The result of being a servant is that we achieve endurance through patience and develop the ability to remain steadfast in the face of adversities. Patience works experience and experience works hope. The more patience we exercise under troubles, the more hopeful we may look through our troubles.
As we study the Scriptures for the examples given to us, they serve to give us encouragement that we might have hope. As Christians learn from the past they are motivated to endure and be comforted in the present, looking ahead in hope to the future. The steadfast endurance and encouragement a Christian receives from the Scriptures come ultimately from God, the author of the Scriptures. The study of Scripture gives patience under human persecution and Satan's opposition. The study of Scripture also gives patience as we bear one another's burdens, and in waiting for divine promises to be fulfilled.
The study of Scripture gives us comfort. It is the comfort that springs from the Word of God and bids us to rise above our fears. It is the comfort that urges us to dwell little on fleeting things and commands us to find our joy in God.
2. That we have a Spirit of Unity.
Romans 15:5,6, Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded toward one another according to Christ Jesus; that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This Spirit of Unity includes being of one-mind; to be able to think the same, and one heart; to be able to love the same, and one mouth; to be able to speak the same. The foundation of Christian love and peace is laid in like-mindedness. This like-mindedness must be according to the pattern and example of Jesus Christ. Like-mindedness that is patterned after Jesus Christ means we will have a right mind, a sound mind, a pure mind, a spiritual mind, and a renewed mind. The mind controls our conversation with God; the mouth controls our conversation with others. A spirit of unity is an essential element in a relationship of service.
It is desirable that Christians should agree in everything that they might glorify God. One mouth in confessing the truths of God. One mouth in praising the name of God. One mouth in common conversation, not jarring, biting, or devouring one another.
3. That we might receive one another.
Romans 15:7, that we might receive one another as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Paul had encouraged the strong to receive the weak because sometimes the prejudices of the weak Christian make him shy away from the strong, as much as the pride of the strong Christian makes him shay away from the weak. Neither should be. There should be mutual embracing among Christians. Those that have received Christ by faith must receive all Christians by brotherly love.
Jesus Christ has received us into the nearest and dearest relations to Himself. He has received us into His fold, into His family, into the adoption of sons, into a marriage-covenant with Him. The end of our reception by Christ is that we might glorify God in this world, and will be glorified with Him in that to come.