“Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” (Hebrews 12:12–13, AV)
Occasionally we meet someone who cannot get around without help. I have had a few instances like this. Once in the military, one of my soldiers sprained an ankle and could not walk so I had to carry him using the fireman’s carry. On another instance I had to help a person who was wheelchair bound get up a flight of stairs. These are common things that most of us have experienced in some form or another. The strong must carry the infirmities of the weak. This is the picture that the author of Hebrews gives to his Jewish audience.
The author quotes from Isaiah 35:3 of which the context regards strengthening those who are weak. It is a responsibility of the strong in the faith to lift-up and carry those who are weak. To understand the author’s uses of this verse we must think back to the makeup of the Hebrew community to which he writes. In that community there were some who were very solid believers, those who experienced true faith and were strong in it. There were others who had tasted the blessings of the gospel but had not yet experienced true faith, but were still seeking. There were others who had made professions of faith and yet still had only come to a place of intellectual assent to the message of Christ. These latter groups were the weak who needed the support of the strong.
The strong in the Hebrew community needed to be considerate of those who were weak. The reason was so that the weak would not walk away and never enter true faith. That is why the author writes, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15, AV). He was concerned that there were some in the community, that might be tempted to stray back to traditional Judaism, due to the pressures the Jews were placing upon those who believed in Jesus. He wants the strong to make sure that no one falls short of experiencing grace by true faith in Christ alone.
Thus, the author tells the congregation to “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14, AV). They, especially the strong were to live in an exemplary way in the community with a focus on the weak so that the weak would grow in their understanding and come to true faith. They needed to work on building strong relationships with the weak where there would be a focus on tranquility and holiness. We can understand how important this would be when those who identified with the community of Christians, were being shunned by their former friends and relatives because of their new alignment.
Our churches today are also made up of people who are strong in the faith and some who are weak. There are those who have made a profession of faith based upon a mere intellectual assent to the message of the gospel. There are also seekers who are looking for answers. We who are strong, must make an effort to reach out to those in the community who are weak. Relationships with us will make a huge difference in their lives. Work to make connections and build relationships, with tranquility and holiness. Those that come into our fellowship need to see something different from that which the world offers.