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Please Others, Not Yourselves

15

We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.


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1. We then who are strong, etc. Lest they who had made more advances than others in the knowledge of God should think it unreasonable, that more burden was to be laid on them than on others, he shows for what purpose this strength, by which they excelled others, was bestowed on them, even that they might so sustain the weak as to prevent them to fall. For as God has destined those to whom he has granted superior knowledge to convey instruction to the ignorant, so to those whom he makes strong he commits the duty of supporting the weak by their strength; thus ought all gifts to be communicated among all the members of Christ. The stronger then any one is in Christ, the more bound he is to bear with the weak. 437437     The word for “strong” is δυνατοὶ, “able,” which Calvin renders potentes, powerful, or able. They were the more advanced in knowledge and in piety. They were to “bear,” βαστάζειν, in the sense of carrying or sustaining the infirmities of the weak, impotentium, “the unable,” ἀδυνάτων, such as were unable to carry their own burdens. The duty is not merely to bear with or tolerate weaknesses, (for this is not the meaning of the verb,) but to help and assist the weak and the feeble to carry them. The most literal rendering is —
   “We then who are able ought to bear (or carry)
the infirmities of the unable.” — Ed.

By saying that a Christian ought not to please himself, he intimates, that he ought not to be bent on satisfying himself, as they are wont to be, who are content with their own judgment, and heedlessly neglect others: and this is indeed an admonition most suitable on the present subject; for nothing impedes and checks acts of kindness more than when any one is too much swallowed up with himself, so that he has no care for others, and follows only his own counsels and feelings.

2. Let indeed 438438     The γὰρ in this verse is considered by Griesbach as wholly spurious; and Beza has left it out. — Ed. every one of us, etc. He teaches us here, that we are under obligations to others, and that it is therefore our duty to please and to serve them, and that there is no exception in which we ought not to accommodate ourselves to our brethren when we can do so, according to God’s word, to their edification.

There are here two things laid down, — that we are not to be content with our own judgment, nor acquiesce in our own desires, but ought to strive and labor at all times to please our brethren, — and then, that in endeavoring to accommodate ourselves to our brethren, we ought to have regard to God, so that our object may be their edification; for the greater part cannot be pleased except you indulge their humor; so that if you wish to be in favor with most men, their salvation must not be so much regarded, but their folly must be flattered; nor must you look to what is expedient, but to what they seek to their own ruin. You must not then strive to please those to whom nothing is pleasing but evil.




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