For those of you wondering why I am hammering on this theme the answer is that it is important. We have a threefold emphasis in our church body – Witness, Mercy, and Life Together. Our life together is suffering becaue we have two kinds of people in the church living under the umbrella of sinners forgiven for the sake of Jesus. We have the weak and wrong headed and wandering types, and we have the bull headed, know it all, pious types that really get upset with the weak and wrongheaded and wandering. They rant and rave and want to “trim and press” everyone to their understanding of the faith to the point where the Gospel no longer predominates. Luther had some wonderful comments about this in his Sermon on Romans 15 and bearing with the weak.
Therefore, the Christian must on this point discriminate between the two classes mentioned. The weak should receive his kindly and patient instruction, but the roving, ranting kind are to meet with his earnest opposition. Let him teach and perform everything calculated to annoy and oppose the latter, and quietly omit whatever is pleasing to them, and let him honor their ban with a great easel-box. This is the consistent course of Christian love. It is the treatment every man desires for himself. Were any one of us misled by a weak conscience, he would desire a little time to retrieve instead of being precipitately cut off from the Church. He would like to be kindly instructed, to be borne with for a while and to be delivered from the wolves. Such is Christ’s conduct toward us, and such does he desire our conduct toward one another to be.
11. The second cause of discord Paul also removes. There is, and always will be, among Christ’s followers a class who are weak and sickly in good works, just as the first were defective in faith. We have, then, two kinds of invalid Christians–those affected inwardly, in faith and conscience; and those outwardly unsound, in works and deportment. Christ desires none of them to be rejected, but would have all received. He would give Christian love abundant opportunity to exercise itself, to heal its neighbors, to do them good and to bear with them, in matters inward and outward–in faith and conduct. The weak in conduct are they who sometimes fall into open sin; or again they who are called in German “wunderliche Koepfe und Seltsame,” people easily irritated or with other shortcomings which make it difficult to get along with them. Especially have we instances among husbands and wives, masters and servants, rulers and subjects.12. Now, where Paul’s Christian doctrine does not obtain, naturally each individual forgets the beam in his own eye and perceives only the mote in his neighbor’s. One will not bear with the faults of the other; each requires perfection of his fellow. Hence they reflect upon each other’s conduct. One resorts to this subterfuge, the other to that, to evade the harassing censure and displeasure of his neighbor. He who can, cuts the other’s acquaintance, drops him, and then justifies himself with the excuse that his motive was love of righteousness; that he did not want to associate with wicked persons, but desired the company of only the good and godly like himself.13. This evil holds sway chiefly in individuals ranking more or less high in the estimation of their fellows, who lead respectable lives and are particularly favored. These puff themselves up and put on airs. Whoever is not just like them is held in disgrace, in disparagement and contempt. Only themselves are worthy of admiration. But he who measures up to them, whose life is equally respectable-ah! he is righteous and a good friend; with him they can associate with perfect satisfaction to themselves as individuals who love only righteousness and the righteous, and hate nothing but wickedness and the wicked. They are not aware of the secret satanical pride in the inmost recesses of their hearts, which pride is the very reason they haughtily and meanly despise their neighbors for their imperfections.