Chapter 14 of our epistle was focused on realizing the priority of heavenly matters and being understanding and accepting of brothers and sisters with whom we have differences of opinion. Paul referred to those who cling to religious rituals as “weaker” but does not call upon them forego these as long as they do not make them essential matters.
In this chapter, the apostle builds on this, giving instruction to those who do not rely on religious rituals as “the strong.” Paul includes himself in this group. Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. (Romans 15:1) This mitigates against the world’s view of strength and how to use it, but – as we will see – it reflects perfectly the godly view of strength.
As we’ve noted, biblical love is focused on doing what is best for the other person. That’s what Paul instructs us on here. Verse 2: Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. This is the same message we’ve been hearing – remember this verse from chapter 14: So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another (Romans 14:19). The apostle’s reasoning is constant: Christ Jesus is the savior of sinners, but He also has left us an example to follow. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” (Romans 15:3)
In none of the teaching of how we are to live – as individuals or as the local church – do we find the answer within self. Always we are instructed to look to Another; the One upon Whom our reproaches fell. Contrary to some what professing Christians teach, we must look to the Scriptures alone to find how Jesus walked, how we are to walk. When we get discontented with what God has revealed to us in His Word, we are vulnerable to falling into error by seeking wisdom from men, self, the world. When you read of preachers who tell stories, looking to the newspaper for topics, seeking experience as the theme of abundant living you see in action one who does not follow the apostle’s teaching. We are to be willing to suffer the reproach of the world, knowing His approval is what matters.