“If you’re not careful, you’ll suffer the consequences.” We may or may not have heard that statement at some point in our lives, and while we realize that actions have consequences, some think that that applies only to others, and not to themselves. Sometimes the consequences of our actions are immediate, and other times the consequences don’t become apparent until long after the initial event took place. And depending on our actions, the consequences can be either good or bad.
This point struck home after I read the first part of Romans 15 not long ago. This chapter illustrates that those who are strong are obligated to bear with those who are weak. It warns us against using the freedom we have in Jesus merely as an excuse to please ourselves, but to use it to build up our neighbors. If we abuse this freedom and seek to live out a life of pleasure only for ourselves, the consequences of such a life will travel with us down to the end of our road. Paul exhorts us to use the freedom of Christ to build each other up, to build relationships with others by not just telling of the Scriptures but by putting them to proper use.
Paul concludes this passage in verses 5 through 7: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” If we are able to at least work toward that end, the outcome may be greater than any of us anticipate.