Consolation for the Weak
James Smith, 1860
"Yes, he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand." Romans 14:4
The apostle is administering comfort to the weak, and caution to the strong. Faith may be real — and yet feeble. The work of the Spirit, is not always powerful at first. We are apt to require others to come up to our standard, and to walk by our rule. But this is wrong. The strong should help the weak. The well instructed, should sympathize with those who are but just beginning to learn the gospel. We should receive all that God receives, and on the same grounds, and for the same purposes.
I am not justified in being stricter, or more rigid than my Lord. If Christ loves them — so should I. If Christ takes them into union with himself — I may surely unite myself to them. If Christ admits them into fellowship — I may admit them into fellowship too. If I deal leniently with them out of love, he will take it kindly at my hands; and approve rather of my being too lenient, than too rigid. We must not judge severely, or be censorious. We must not predict a fall, because we discover feebleness; for the feeble shall be held up — for God is able to make him stand. Let us notice,
The OBJECT of Christ's Sympathy.A believer in Jesus — but a weak believer. One taught of the Spirit — but who has yet but little scriptural knowledge. It is not everyone that can understand doctrines, or unravel mysteries. Some of these feeble folk know but little — but they all know three things:
1. They know that they are poor lost sinners.
2. They know that Jesus is a suitable and sufficient Savior.
3. They know that he is precious to every believer.
Yet, they have but little confidence in God. They can trust him when they enjoy his presence, or feel the power of his Word; but when they cannot realize that presence, or enjoy that Word — they are harassed with doubts, fears, and misgivings. They do not withdraw their hold — but their hands are weak, and they need that the Lord should hold them fast.
They have but little sensible friendship with God. They cannot live without prayer. They must unburden their minds at the throne of grace. But of that sweet fellowship with God, of which they hear others talk — they know but little. They are very jealous and scrupulous. A little matter excites their suspicion, and they soon give way to doubt; and instead of passing the margin of Christian liberty, they are afraid of enjoying many things that are lawful, lest they should dishonor God.
They are soon stumbled, and therefore those who have much to do with them, had need use caution, and act wisely before them. They call for much pity and forbearance; and are not always the most agreeable company. But they are precious in the sight of God, and dear to the heart of Jesus: hence —
They are Assured of Support."He will stand." This is a precious promise for the Lord's feeble ones. The Lord deals with them as children, and, as in the family the weak and sickly child has most attention, draws forth most sympathy, and excites most pity; so, as a Father pities his children, the Lord pities those who fear him. The strong may be required to go alone — but the weak one shall have the Father's hand! The last look at night, and the first kiss in the morning — is for the sick one! And here, however rough the road, or extreme his weakness, "he will stand."
God has made many special promises to the weak. To them he whispers, "Fear not, worm Jacob, I will hold your right hand." To them he says, "I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you, with the right hand of my righteousness." For their encouragement, it is written, "He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young." His watchful eye is ever over them, his everlasting arms are ever beneath them, and his inviolable faithfulness is ever illustrated in them.
"The Lord is able to make him stand." The apostle refers only to his ability, as if he thought, that no one would doubt his willingness. Weak believer, if your God can hold you up — he will. If he can make you stand — you shall never fall. That he can, we know, for he is omnipotent.
The ability of God is a very great source of comfort to believers. "He is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory." "He is able to subdue all things unto himself." "He is able to do exceeding abundantly, above all that we can ask or think." Nothing is too hard for him, and therefore "he gives power to the faint, and to those who have no might, he increases strength." Jesus will especially display his power in the experience of the weak. He ever has done so. He ever will.
It is not the weak that stumble — so much as the careless. It is not the feeble that fall — but rather the presumptuous. The arm of power, and the bosom of love — are set apart for the little ones. Little faith, will therefore prove, that the power and grace of Jesus is sufficient for him. Such, ever go from strength to strength, until every one of them in Zion appears before God. They have an especial interest in the promise, "As your days — so shall your strength be." And with the buffeted, and deeply tried apostle, they always find, that the grace of Jesus is sufficient for them; and that his strength is made perfect in their weakness.
Beloved, are you weak in faith? If so, keep your eye fixed on Jesus! Carry all your cares to Jesus, and lay up this precious assurance in your heart, that you shall be held up, because God is able to make you stand.
Are you strong in faith, giving glory to God! Then bear the infirmities of the weak. Lend them a helping hand. "Bear one another burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Receive them into your affections, let them share your sympathies, and walk with them in fellowship to your Father's house above. Jesus will not break the bruised reed — nor should you. He will not despise the day of small things — nor should you. Be therefore imitators of him, as dear children, and walk in love.