April 9, 2008
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please Himself. Romans 15:1-3a
I've never met the children of South Africa's Salumbe village. Even so, I admire them.
Some time ago, the village boat was stolen. Without buses and cars and with the nearest safe crossing calling for a twelve-mile detour, each day one hundred and fifty students swim across the crocodile-infested Tugela River to get to school.
They swim that river in their underwear, using rubber inner tubes to keep them afloat and buckets to keep their schoolbooks and uniforms dry.
Now you might think self-preservation would dictate those students do all they can to get across that river as quickly as possible. That's what most people would do if they were crossing a river with crocodiles.
Not so the students of Salumbe village. The older ones, the ones who are stronger swimmers, help those who are younger and weaker.
Yes, I like the students of Salumbe village.
They have a pretty good grasp of what St. Paul was saying to the Christians who lived in ancient Rome. He wanted them, and us, to know that those who have been saved by Christ, who have been washed of their sins and been given a strong faith, have an obligation to help those who are weak.
Did I use the word obligation? Let's change that to opportunity. We who were once helpless in sin and bound by Satan have been brought to safety by the Savior's great sacrifice. Now, as opportunity presents itself, we can show our thanks to Jesus by helping those who are weak or have a special need.
To help the weak swim their own rivers-that's the way Jesus said He wanted His followers to live, isn't it? You remember His words, don't you? "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40b). Jesus wants us to help others swim their own rivers.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, You gave Your life so that I could be freed from sin and rescued from unknown dangers all around me. In giving thanks, may I do what I can to help others who are in difficulty and danger. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries