Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The weak and the strong

Home » Meditations » Meditations » Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The weak and the strong

“Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:32-35

“To bear the burden of the other person means involvement with the created reality of the other, to accept and affirm it, and, in bearing with it, to break through to the point where we take joy in it. This will prove especially difficult where varying strength and weakness in faith are bound together in a fellowship. The weak must not judge the strong, the strong must not despise the weak. The weak must guard against pride, the strong against indifference. None must seek his own rights. If the strong person falls, the weak must guard his heart against malicious joy at his downfall. If the weak one falls, the strong one must help him rise again in all kindness. The one needs as much patience as the other.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) in Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community (New York: Harper & Row, 1954) 101-102.

In God’s providence, I located a free PDF copy of this book for download. Click to access it. I commend it to all Daily Meditations readers. If you have not read it, it’s a classic to add to your reading list this year!

We have been looking at kindness for only one week and found rich insights to shape our generous living. Today is no exception. Bonhoeffer brings kindness to the center of all interaction between the weak and the strong.

This came up in a conversation with a student this weekend. She’s doing her thesis on a topic that is widely misunderstood by Christians. As she gains wisdom I urged her to kindly aid those who are receptive to listen.

When we look honestly into our own hearts, we find that we are all strong in some areas and weak in others. That’s God’s design and the fellowship in which He has placed us. It also reveals why we must relate with kindness.

Kindness opens the door for relationship. How might kindness shape your interaction with people this week? As I shift from the classroom to financial counseling sessions, I’m choosing to bring kindness to my meetings.

I meet with each of my Faith and Finances students, as individuals or as couples (if they are married), to help them get their financial houses in order. I am finding that kindness inspires them to take courageous and obedient steps.