“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
~Romans 15:1-2 (NIV).
Without getting into the whole story and context that the above passage was originally set in, we get a feel very quickly when reading these two sentences that they depict a normal, if not appropriate, order of life—the way things should be.
Yet, how often have the strong led the weak astray? The person with most skill, knowledge, experience and moral reason fails morally to abide by these very statutes and the innocent, “relying” party falters because of them. This is the principle of the strong letting down the weak.
For a salient example, child neglect or abuse fits the bill. Children don’t ask for their “caring” adults to apportion their time and care; they simply rely. They don’t have the option to trust or not. They just have to. It’s the same in any team context where the leaders must lead responsibly. The weaker ones necessarily rely on the strong.
This order of life is necessary for the very survival of humankind, lest it spin into anarchy. And in every civilisation where moral bankruptcy has led to its demise, the strong have let down the weak.
The question for us now, the very real and serious question, is where are we strong—needing to provide the right example? In these positions our role is to pray for and exercise wisdom—which is vision, discernment, a dedication to truth involving courage to act in faith and most of all, self-restraint, for there are always opportunities to abuse power that the strong have by virtue of their superior position.
Most of all, perhaps, the strong must bear the weak—beyond their own desires—and not put them in a position of danger, abusing the trust...
The reverse question also applies.
Where are we weak and therefore need to come under the control and dependence of those who’re stronger? Our role here is to simply trust and obey. We’re to trust others’ vision, discernment and decision-making.
We’re all in positions of varying strength and weakness in our myriad of life roles. It is our job to appropriately fit ourselves the accordant positions, situationally.
This surely is the purpose of appropriate Christian discipleship—to determine, situationally, our position and response in alignment with God’s will for us at that time.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.