Author Archive

Christ Pleased Not Himself

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.  For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

Romans 15:1-3

We have looked at the first two verses of this chapter and how they tell us to “bear the infirmities of the weak, not please ourselves, and please our neighbours.”  As Christians, we should be doing all of those things.  And, as always, Jesus Christ is our perfect example in these areas.

Verse 3 tells us that “Christ pleased not himself…”  We are told to please our neighbours and not ourselves.  Jesus did exactly this during His life here on Earth.  Everything He did was about others.  During His Earthly ministry, he helped people.  He healed the sick, caused the blind to see and caused the deaf to hear.  He even raised people from the dead.  I’m sure that, humanly speaking, He got tired.  I’m sure that He was weary and just wanted to sleep some days.  I’m sure that He could have devoted much more of His life to Himself if He had chosen to do so.  But He didn’t.  He made his life about pleasing and helping others.

I’m sure that Jesus did not enjoy dying on the cross.  I’m sure that He did not enjoy being beaten and spat upon.  None of the things He endured were pleasant things that He would have enjoyed.  But He did all of those things for us.  He suffered and died on the cross for others – us included.  That is the greatest example in all of history of someone loving others and living for them rather than themselves.

He has set the perfect example.  How are we doing at following it?

Pleasing Your Neighbour

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

Romans 15:1-2

How much effort do we put into fulfilling verse 2 of this passage?  “Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.”  How much effort do we really put into “pleasing our neighbour?”

We might occasionally do something that we view as a sacrifice to help our neighbour.  But how often do we cosistently put their needs and wants before our needs and wants?  We might occasionally please our neighbour, but often, when we do, we find ourselves filled with pride.

The Bible is very clear about how we should treat others.  It is clear that we should put the needs and wants of others above our own.  It is clear that we should be more concerned with pleasing our neighbour than pleasing ourselves.  And, when the Bible is very clear about something, we usually tend to mess it up.

We all want to please ourselves.  We all want to do things that help to improve our situation or help to improve our comfort or enjoyment of life.  Can you imagine how great it would be if we would put all of the effort into pleasing and helping others as we put into pleasing and helping ourselves?  I dare say that our lives (and the live of those that we help and influence) would be radically changed.  How good are we at being a servant?  How good are we at putting others above ourselves?  I would say that we probably all have some work to do in this area!

Strong Helping the Weak

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 

Romans 15:1-2

Too often in the world in which we live, we find people stepping on other people to “get to the top.”  We find the people who are “strong” ridiculing the people who are “weak.”  We find a gross lack of compassion.  It should not be this way in our churches.  It should not be this way in the lives of Christians.

The Bible tells us here that “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.”  As always, we tend to get things backward.  Usually, it is the strong who try to impose their wills and their opinions on the weak.  It is the weak who must submit to the strong.  But that is the opposite of what the Bible would tell us.

If we are “strong” Christians, we should be strong enough to ignore our own wants, desires and opinions and submit our wants, desires and opinions to others.  The stronger we are, the more we should be focusing on others.

A good test of our level of Christianity would be our approach toward others.  Do we want to force everyone to be just like us and to submit to our will?  That would be the sign of a weak Christian.  Or do we defer to others?  Do we put the wants and needs of others ahead of our own will?  That would be the sign of a strong Christian.  This is one of the paradoxes of the Christian life.  The stronger we are, the more submissive we are.  The stronger we are, the more forgving we are.  And the stronger we are, the less we think about ourselves and our own personal wants.  How strong are we today?  How are we treating others?

We Usually Get It Backward

Let us not therefore judge on another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.  I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably.  Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 

Romans 14:13-15

When you read this whole chapter dealing with judging others and questionable things and really look at the spirit of it, it quickly becomes evident that we often get the whole thing completely backward.

What we usually do when it comes to judging others on questionable things is this: We have our opinion.  Everyone who has a lower opinion or standard is a liberal/compromising Christian who is barely even a Christian at all.  Everyone who has a higher opinion or standard is a crazy/hypocritical Pharisee who wants to go back to the Old Testament law.  We have our opinion and we either refuse to tolerate or even ridicule everyone else’s opinion.  We make the whole question all about ourselves and our opinions.

What we should do is this: We have our opinion.  We notice that others have a different opinion.  We defer to them, so as not to place a stumbling block in front of them.  We ignore our opinion and think about the opinions of others.  We ignore our opinions and we defer to the opinions of others because we want only to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.  And when we are following after that goal, we realize that our opinions don’t really even matter.

When it comes to matter of opinion/preference, which approach are we taking?

The Savior Calls (Hymn)

The Savior Calls
Anne Steele (1760)

The Savior calls; let every ear
Attend the heav’nly sound.
Ye doubting souls, dismiss your fear;
Hope smiles reviving round.

For every thirsty, longing heart
Here streams of bounty flow,
And life and health and bliss impart
To banish mortal woe.

Here springs of sacred pleasures rise
To ease your every pain;
Immortal fountain, full supplies!
Nor shall you thirst in vain.

Ye sinners, come, ’tis Mercy’s voice;
The gracious call obey;
Mercy invites to heav’nly joys,
And can you yet delay?

Dear Savior, draw reluctant hearts;
To Thee let sinners fly
And take the bliss Thy love imparts
And drink and never die.

This was a poem written by Anne Steele in 1760.  It wasn’t set to music for about another seventy years.  Many of our hymns are like that – they start out as poems written to and/or about the Lord and then someone comes along and puts them to music.  But they are a blessing either way.  This poem/hymn speaks of the great truth that Jesus is calling.  He is calling the sinner to Himself and He is calling the saint to stay close by His side.  Are we listening?

Psalm Saturday (9g)

I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.  I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.  When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.  for thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.  Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.  O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.  But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.  And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.  The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.

Psalm 9:1-9

Verse 9 of this Psalm can be a great encouragement: “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”  If you have ever felt oppressed, the Lord is your refuge.  If you have ever had a time of trouble, the Lord is your refuge.  No matter what your problem, the Lord is your refuge.

When we are oppressed and when we are in trouble (whether it is trouble of our own doing or trouble that came upon us through no fault of our own), we need a refuge.  We need a safe place to run and a safe place to hide.  The Lord is that safe place.  The Lord is our refuge.  The Bible tells us that many times.  Do we believe it?  Do we make full use of that comforting thought?  We should – He is our refuge!

The Kingdom of God

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably.  Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.  Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.  For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

Romans 14:15-18

This whole passage is dealing with us and with our dealings with others.  We are told not to put a stumbling block in front of other Christians.  We are to not use our liberty to cause another Christian to stumble or fall.  It is about putting our opinions and desires on the back burner and putting the opinions and desires of others first.

Verse 17 tells us that “…the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  Paul used here the illustration of meat.  There was nothing wrong with eating meat, and Paul knew and understood that.  But it offended the conscience of some new Christians.  So Paul decided that he would not eat meat so as not to offend them or cause them to stumble.

Paul understood that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  So often, we get too focused on earthly things.  So often, we focus on things that really don’t even matter.  We squabble about insignificant things and ignore the bigger things like “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Are we ignoring righteousness, peace and joy because we want to argue with another brother or sister about some thing that the Bible doesn’t even address?  Do we value our own opinions above righteousness, peace and joy?  Are we more focused on earthly things or on the Kingdom of God?

 

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