From the Word
As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions.
Romans 14:1, RSV
Some are found who know the gospel, but are offended at their own manner of life. They have a desire to walk in godliness, but they feel that they make no progress. They begin to despair and think that with them all is lost because they do not feel the strength they ought to have. They also earnestly desire Christ to be strong in them and manifest himself in mighty deeds. But in this God designs to humble us, that we may see and feel what feeble creatures we are, what wretched, lost, and condemned men, if Christ had not come and helped us.
But thereby we have no furlough to continue for all time in weakness, for we do not preach that any should be weak, but that we should know the weakness of Christians and bear with it. Christ did not hang upon the cross that he might appear as a murderer and evildoer, but that we might learn how deeply strength lies hidden under weakness, and might learn to know God’s strength in weakness. Thus our weakness is not to be praised, as though we should abide in it, but rather must we learn not to think that those who are weak are not Christians, nor yet despair when we feel our own weakness. Therefore it behooves us to know our own weaknesses and ever to seek to wax stronger, for Christ must not suffer always, nor remain in the grave, but must come forth again and live.
Hence, let no one say that to remain in ignorance is the true course and condition. It is only a beginning, out of which we must grow day by day, giving heed only that we turn not away and despair when we are weak, as though all were lost. Rather must we continue to exercise ourselves till we wax stronger and stronger, and endure and bear the weakness until God helps and takes it away. Hence, even though you see your neighbor so weak that he stumbles, think not that he is beyond hope. God will not have one judge another and be pleased with himself, in as much as we are all sinners, but that one bear the infirmity of the other. Christ also pleased not himself, hence we are to do as he did.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 168–69.