We then that are strong - The apostle resumes the subject of the preceding chapter; and continues the exhortation to brotherly love and mutual kindness and forbearance. By the “strong” here he means the strong “in faith” in respect to the matters under discussion; those whose minds were free from doubts and perplexities. His own mind was free from doubt, and there were many others, particularly of the Gentile converts, that had the same views. But many also, particularly of the “Jewish” converts, had many doubts and scruples.
Ought to bear - This word bear properly means to “lift up,” to “bear away,” to “remove.” But here it is used in a larger sense; “to bear with, to be indulgent to, to endure patiently, not to contend with;” Galatians 6:2; Revelation 2:2, “Thou canst not bear them that are evil.”
And not to please ourselves - Not to make it our main object to gratify our own wills. We should be willing to deny ourselves, if by it we may promote the happiness of others. This refers particularly to “opinions” about meats and drinks; but it may be applied to Christian conduct generally, as denoting that we are not to make our own happiness or gratification the standard of our conduct, but are to seek the welfare of others; see the example of Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:19, 1 Corinthians 9:22; see also Philemon 2:4; 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love seeketh not her own;” 1 Corinthians 10:24, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another‘s wealth; also Matthew 16:24.
We then that are strong - The sense of this verse is supposed to be the following: We, Gentile Christians, who perfectly understand the nature of our Gospel liberty, not only lawfully may, but are bound in duty to bear any inconveniences that may arise from the scruples of the weaker brethren, and to ease their consciences by prudently abstaining from such indifferent things as may offend and trouble them; and not take advantage from our superior knowledge to make them submit to our judgment.
The Saviour is acquainted with the mental suffering of His children. He knows how at times their hearts are wounded and bleeding. He would have the afflicted soothed and helped. He says to us, “Bear ye one another's burdens” (Galatians 6:2). “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). We are to relate ourselves rightly to one another, even though to do this demands sacrifice. Christ made an infinite sacrifice for us, and should we not be willing to sacrifice for others? We are to guard carefully against wounding or bruising the hearts of God's children, for when we do this, we wound and bruise the heart of Christ.—Letter 31, January 17, 1904, to Elder and Mrs. J. A. Burden, and Dr. and Mrs. D. H. Kress. UL 31.7Read in context »
We must expect to meet and bear with great imperfections in those who are young and inexperienced. Christ has bidden us seek to restore such in the spirit of meekness, and He holds us responsible for pursuing a course which will drive them to discouragement, despair, and ruin. Unless we daily cultivate the precious plant of love we are in danger of becoming narrow, unsympathetic, bigoted, and critical, esteeming ourselves righteous when we are far from being approved of God. Some are uncourteous, abrupt, and harsh. They are like chestnut burs: they prick whenever touched. These do incalculable harm by misrepresenting our loving Saviour. 5T 605.1
We must come up to a higher standard, or we are unworthy of the Christian name. We should cultivate the spirit with which Christ labored to save the erring. They are as dear to Him as we are. They are equally capable of being trophies of His grace and heirs of the kingdom. But they are exposed to the snares of a wily foe, exposed to danger and defilement, and without the saving grace of Christ, to certain ruin. Did we view this matter in the right light, how would our zeal be quickened and our earnest, self-sacrificing efforts be multiplied, that we might come close to those who need our help, our prayers, our sympathy, and our love! 5T 605.2
Let those who have been remiss in this work consider their duty in the light of the great commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” This obligation is resting upon all. All are required to labor to diminish the ills and multiply the blessings of their fellow creatures. If we are strong to resist temptation we are under the greater obligation to help those who are weak and yielding. Have we knowledge, we should instruct the ignorant. Has God blessed us with this world's goods, it is our duty to succor the poor. We must work for others’ good. Let all within the sphere of our influence be partakers of whatever of excellence we may possess. None should be content to feed on the bread of life without sharing it with those around them. 5T 606.1Read in context »