Romans 15:1-4

In Romans 15:1-4 Paul teaches what it is like to live the Christian life. We need to be filled with care and concern for others. If you consider yourself strong in comparison to your brother, use your strength to serve your brothers in Christ – instead of using your “strength” just to please yourself. “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” The idea isn’t really bearing with, but bearing up the weaker brother – supporting him with your superior strength. The world tells us to look out for ourselves. God’s way is to look out for each other.

Paul points the way to true happiness and fulfillment in life – get your eyes off of yourself, start building up others and you will find yourself built up. It is a simple yet challenging call to simply put our neighbor first. “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” You can’t possibly do what Paul asks of us unless we put our focus on how we can build up each other. We aren’t on this planet to focus on what we can get for ourselves. We’re here, in community – the church, small groups, prayer groups etc – not for our own good, but to pour into others and build them up. This shows that Paul does not mean being a “man-pleaser.” Such a person may want to please his neighbor, but not for his neighbor’s good.

Jesus set the example for us. Do you think for a minute that had He been focused on what would have been easiest for Himself, He would have carried that Cross to Calvary’s hill? I don’t think so. Jesus is the ultimate example of one who did not please Himself, but put others first. “For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” As Jesus took abuse and suffered wrong for God’s glory, He fulfilled what was written in God’s word. Jesus showed by His example that for the most part we are entirely too quick to vindicate ourselves, instead of letting God vindicate us. Jesus showed how the Father is more than capable of vindicating us.

The commandment Jesus fulfilled from Psalm 69:7 (“For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face.”) applies to us as well. It was written for our learning, that we might have hope, knowing we are doing what is right even when it is difficult. “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.” When we respond rightly to the reproaches the world casts against us for Jesus’ sake, it bothers them even more. It makes them know there isn’t anything they can do against a child of God whose eyes are really on Jesus.

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