The strong and the weak

The gospel teaches us that the strong should care for the weak. It does this by admonishing us and by giving us the example of Christ, whose great strength was spent on our behalf. Furthermore, the gospel commands us to provide additional examples by imitating Christ.

By his vibrant example, Christ teaches us the good reason that God has made both strong and weak. From him we learn that the weak are not weak by flaw or tragedy or injustice, but by glorious design. When the strong care for the weak, we see that weakness is not to be despised, nor strength to be envied. The gospel of Christ teaches us (if we will allow it!) the beautiful arrangement of strong and weak.

Rom 15:1  We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

In sharp contrast to this, this age tells the strong to lay down their strength. It tells us that the strong should feel guilty. Who gave them this strength? No doubt they stole it. It tells us that the weak aren’t really weak, only victimized and belittled. This age assaults and slanders every form of chivalry. When a man opens the door for a lady, he is not honoring her with his strength, rather he is stealing hers.

This demonization of strength is no laughing matter. The world is not such a place as this generation imagines. Strength and weakness are real, and they are innate. No plan to do away with the strong will succeed in raising up the weak. The world will not evened out, no matter how we hiss and slander. The strength is not transferable. Men will always be stronger than women. Adults will always be stronger than children. Employers will always be stronger than employees.

What can we expect to receive from the condemnation of chivalry? We can expect a world where the strong feel guilty and the weak are bitter. We can expect a world where men of good will seek to minimize their strength. They will be ashamed to exert it to care for the weak. And yet, evil men will continue to maximize their own power, as they always have. We will see strength to do good wither on the vine. We will see weakness stand naked and uncared for. We will see injustice covered by flattery.

We see it now. Society’s care for women and children is in the process of vanishing like the morning mist. As an example, consider that we are in convulsions over how to provide for the sexual vulnerability of women. And many of the most agitated would object to the phrase sexual vulnerability of women. The solution was provided long ago, the strong ought to care for the weak. But those who claim that women are not weak will succeed only in seeing that they are also not cared for.

The gospel shows us a better way to live. One where the strong are not ashamed of the strength God has given them, and the weak are not despised, not flattered, not victimized. A society that heeds the gospel, and hears all its requirements, is one in which the weak are honored by the care shown them by the strong.

Hear me now, this is crucial: that the strong should care for the weak means denying that the weak are strong, and it means permitting the strong to exercise their strength. There can be no skirting around this point. We either get comfortable with the idea of inequality in its proper arrangement as being both good and beautiful, or we must lay aside the teachings of Christ.

We must allow our generation to hear all the requirements of the gospel. (These are not requirements for salvation, but for living in a righteous way.) The new testament scriptures, which tell us that we are justified by faith regardless of our works, nevertheless repeatedly tell us how to handle relationships between parents and children, husbands and wives, masters and servants. Each of these are asymmetrical, unequal relationships. In each type of relationship, one party is strong and the other is weak. In each type of relationship, one party is in authority over the other.

How are Christians to handle these types of relationships?

The weaker party, who in each case is under the authority of the other party, is to obey the other, showing deference and honor. Mistreatment, if it comes, is to be taken patiently, knowing that God sees and will avenge every injustice. The person in this weaker position is encouraged to know that their obedience is ultimately to the lord and not to men. They are at all times free to offer their lives in service to God by sincerely serving their earthly superiors.

The stronger one has other matters to attend to, but with the same heart of submission to God. The father, husband or master must treat the other party justly, taking care not to exasperate or overburden them. He must avoid the temptation to be harsh or threatening. He does this not because he is afraid of the weaker party, but because he fears the lord in heaven, and he knows, or ought to know, that his privileged position will not spare him from judgment.

It is not the case that the care shown for children, wives and servants is the same care. Each of these relationships differs from the others. The preceding two paragraphs are meant to show the similarities, not to suggest that there are no differences. The differences concern the particulars of each type of relationship. The similarities show the gospel plan for the relationship between the strong and the weak, those in authority and those under authority.

Only the gospel provides us with a plan by which the strong may serve the weak without doing harm or injustice to either one. Accept no substitutions.


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