Now this is a facinating sentence. Paul tells those who are strong that they have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak. One commentary said, “a divine ought” – meaning we owe it. This phrase in the New King James Version of the bible says, “ ought to bear with the scruples of the weak.”
Scruples mean to be reluctant to act or decide, have conscientious doubts.
Paul is still talking about how Christians are to handle eachother in matters of conscience.
He is building on top of what he has already said and here he says, “We are to bear with one another.” Specifically, if you think you be the strong ones then you are obligated to bear with the weak, but this word “to bear” is not like just tolerating eachother. This word means to strengthen or to lift and alleviate your fellow brothers and sisters.
Then he adds, “and not to please ourselves.”
Paul is continuing to build this thought from chapter 14, that we are not to hinder the weaker brothers or sisters. Remember from the post “Not Our Place” we learned that weaker means young in faith, possible faulty ideas of truth (like legalism), being malnourished in the Word, and/or lacking excersize to become disciplined in the faith. He is also helping us to know what we are to do with our Christian liberty. We are to use our freedom in Christ to strengthen our brothers and sisters, and not just to please ourselves.
2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.Romans 15:2-4
We are to follow the example of Christ. Here is where that “divine ought” comes from. Jesus, who did not choose to please Himself, but went to the cross and gave Himself for us. Therefore, we ought to give ourselves to the edification of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Some may construe this to mean we end up just being “people pleasers” but that is not the sense of what Paul is saying at all. He is saying help those who struggle in their freedom in Christ, teach them truth, help them understand, build them up in the faith. Paul is saying the scriptures are good, teach them, learn them, live them ,so that we may have hope through endurance and encouragment from the scriptures.
Listen this world gives us all kinds of words to try to pump us up, help us out, and live our best life. But only the scriptures have in them the knowledge of the One who is the Word of Life.
May the God of endurance 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. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.Romans 15:5-7
We have a divine responsibility here and Paul carefully words this as a prayer. He knows that we need the Holy Spirit to do this. Let’s face it, we are often more concerned about ourselves than we are other people. This is about following Christ’s example. Jesus said in John 5:19 “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” We need the Spirit of God!Paul is pointing out then that this harmony is a work of God and it isn’t a 1,2,3 step program. It is His work! He is the God of endurance meaning that this work He is doing is often a slow work, and much slower than we certainly would like it. It works endurance and encouragement in our lives for what purpose? For living in harmony with one another. How do we become one voice that glorifies God? We must do life together. We must welcome one another. Even those who are vastly different from you, as we will see next time.
I’ve been in the same church for over 15 years now. I’ve seen people come, and I’ve seen people go. At times it is the type of teaching or the charisma or lack of the leader’s speaking style that has people coming and going. I’ve noticed them desiring a certain kind of service or atmosphere. But it isn’t who’s teaching that is the most important, especially if the teacher is teaching the Bible truthfully. The people who make up the church are the most important. So, have we let one another into our hearts that we become family? Pastors, teachers, and leaders come and go, step up and down, but the people who have called a church their “home” remain. They endure through the ups and downs. Have you allowed the slow work of God to knit your hearts together so that you have become one voice to the glory of God?
That is the question! This is a lifetime work.
Thanks for Listening,