From the Word
1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; 2 let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him. 3 For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 15:1–6, RSV
God gives patience and consolation. As he is the God of heaven and earth, so he is the God of patience and consolation. All are his gifts. If they are given, they are not of nature, but of grace. If God does not direct his Word to the heart to fit the needs of the individual, the heart will never discover this patience and consolation. But when he gives grace to search the Scriptures, he likewise gives these gifts. There is no more marked manifestation of God’s wrath than the fact that he permits the decline of his spoken and written Word. On the other hand, God gives no greater blessing than when he exalts his Word among us and permits it to be read.
The apostle enjoins the Romans to be of one mind and tolerant of one another. The weak in conscience should accept as right what they of strong faith and sound conscience observe. The effort should be for a oneness of faith and conscience, and a sameness of opinion to avoid the wrangling occasioned by conflicting personal ideas of what is right. It is not necessary that we should all follow the same occupation. One may be a smith and another a tailor without impairing unity of faith and purpose, only let one tolerate the outward calling of the other. As privilege of occupation is right, so in external things of meats, apparel and place, we are at liberty to follow our own pleasure. It is not wrong to fast in honor of the name of an apostle, or to confess during Lent. But neither does he who omits these things commit any evil by this omission. Let not one censure, judge, condemn and quarrel with his fellow over the matter. But I refer to toleration only in things wherein we are at liberty to be lenient. We are to permit the weak in faith to continue in their practices for a time until we are finally able to extricate them from error. They must not be too hastily and rashly rejected with disastrous results to their consciences.
The apostle enjoins us to be likeminded according to Christ Jesus; that is, from a Christian point of view. For unbelievers, too, are likeminded, but according to the flesh, the world and the devil, and not according to Christ. The Jews were of one mind against Christ and against his Church. Christian unity resists sin and everything opposed to the religion of Christ.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 379–80.