Please Others And Not Yourself

David Hume, 18th century British philosopher who rejected historic Christianity, once met a friend hurrying along a London street and asked where he was going. The friend said he was off to hear George Whitfield preach. “But surely you don’t believe what Whitfield preaches, … More

Conviction

In this chapter Paul is dealing with what may have been a temporary and local problem in the Roman Church. However the same type of problem continues to confront the church today and is always demanding a solution. We are not to be people pleasers, but we are to set aside self-pleasing actions for the sake of building others up. Our convictions must not be a disguise for cold hearted treatment of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Christians must not force their opinions on others. There are certain truths that are essential to our walk with the Lord because they are the very foundation of our faith. However, there are many other matters of honest disagreement that must not be a test of our faith. We must not try to force our convictions about these matters on to other people and make them accept whatever it is (vv 1-2). Selfishness has no part in the Christian life. Paul is not arguing here that we continually give in to a weak brother’s desires. We are to act in a way which will be to his lasting benefit.

Believers may hold different convictions about many matters, but this must be done with a loving spirit. On the other hand, the person who may not have the same conviction must not try to get this other person to violate his conscience. This is what the apostle Paul was trying to say in I Corinthians 8-9. The mature Christians knew that an idol was nothing, and that eating meat that had been offered to this idol was not wrong. But a new Christian, just converted out of idolatry, may still have fears about idols. If the mature believer tries to get the new Christian to eat meat sacrificed to an idol, the younger Christian may have problems in his conscience, and this would be wrong.

The spirit of love is the key to Paul’s teaching in these verses. He is not urging that we should give in to a weaker brother’s desires. He is simply saying that we must act in a way that will be to his lasting benefit. Selfishness has no part in a Christian’s life.

Application

My convictions should not cause me to look down on weaker brothers but to look for ways I can help them grow stronger in their faith. It is so easy for me to display a superior attitude and turn people off who I could and should be helping in their walk with the Lord.

Romans 15:1-2 (English Standard Version)

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

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