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. For Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me." (Romans 15:1-3)
Did you see that? Has the church in America seen that? This is so counterintuitive to American thinking or, to be honest, human thinking. In fact, there are many -- even Christians -- who would cry, "That's wrong!"
What was it? Let's see if I can break it down for clarity. "We who are strong have an obligation ... not to please ourselves." It's easy to miss in all the "bear with the failings" stuff. Good stuff. "Yes! We need to bear with the weak." Indeed. But underlying it is "not to please ourselves." Why? What reason does he give? Simple. We are followers of Christ, and "Christ did not please Himself."
It's not like this is a unique text. He told the Philippian Christians to have "one mind", a singular focus. What focus? "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." (Philippians 2:3) There it is again. Of course, Paul goes on to explain that the mindset we are to have is the one that Jesus had (Philippians 2:5-8). In that He "emptied Himself" (Philippians 2:7). "Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor." (2 Corinthians 8:9) Again, we are followers of Christ; we ought to follow Christ. He said, "I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent Me." (John 5:30)
It clearly flies in the face of normal human thinking, where "I am most important", but if "I have been crucified with Christ" and "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20), then it only makes sense that I would not be my primary concern. If "it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13), it is only reasonable that I should seek to please Him above everything else ... including myself. I would be at the bottom of my concerns. I just don't want to be one of those who ignores such clear instructions from my Lord and Savior because it seems so counterintuitive, so much against the grain. That is one of the "old" that I want to pass away to be replaced with the "new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
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