Romans 15:2-7 ESV
“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.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Pleasing our Neighbors
When you read, “let each of us please his neighbor,” don’t stop there. For we are not to be “people pleasers.” We are not to conform to our society or to our culture or to the ways of this sinful world in order to please the people of this world, and not even to please worldly “Christians.” And we are not to immerse ourselves in our culture in order to relate with the people of the world so that they will feel comfortable being around us. That is not of God!
For, in our pleasing of our neighbors, it is to be for their good, and good comes from God, for God is good, so this has to do with the goodness of God, with what originates with him. So, this has to do with what is decent, moral, upright, virtuous, honest, trustworthy, and beneficial (in a good way). So, we are not going to approve of anything sinful nor engage ourselves in sinful practices with our neighbors nor tempt them to do so.
So, we are to please our neighbors for their good to build them up. And building them up does not involve false compliments to increase their egos or so that they will feel good about us and will like us. What is meant here is our pleasing of our neighbors is to be for their edification, i.e. for their spiritual growth and maturity in their walks of faith in Jesus Christ. And edification involves instruction, correction, and urging them to live holy lives.
For, Jesus Christ did not please himself, but he willingly gave his life up for us, not just in his death on a cross, but first of all by leaving his throne in heaven and humbling himself by taking on human form and thus suffering like we suffer and being tempted to sin like we are tempted, yet without sin. For, Jesus often suffered the rebuke and the false accusations and the harassment of his fellows Jews, in particular from the rulers in the Temple of God and from the Scribes and the Pharisees.
And if we are following Jesus Christ with our lives, in pure devotion to him, walking in his ways and in his truth, daily dying to sin and to self, and walking in obedience to his commands, we will suffer like he suffered, too. We will be treated as Jesus was treated. The reproaches that fell on him will also fall on us who are his servants, his body, his church. And especially this will be so if we are sharing with others the gospel of Jesus Christ (the whole counsel of God), which involves death to sin and living to righteousness.
Encouragement of the Scriptures
This quote, “the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me” is a quote from Psalms 69:9, which begins with, “For zeal for your house has consumed me.” It was originally penned by King David, but then it was quoted about Jesus by Paul. So, the meaning is that the reproaches (disapprovals, rebukes, scolding) of those who reproached God the Father had now fallen on Jesus because of his zeal for God’s house. And the continuation of that is that we will now share in those disapprovals.
So, what is the context? For the “Zeal for your house” part, Jesus was clearing the Temple of God of money changers who had turned God’s house into a marketplace, but it was to be a house of prayer. And he was clearing the Temple of God of these thieves with a whip, and he drove all from his temple courts. And when he did this, his disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” So, Jesus did this because of his Zeal for the house of God, and he wanted that house to be pure.
Jesus was not concerned with whether or not people would like him. He was more concerned with them loving God the Father and himself, God the Son, in a spiritual sense, which is evidenced by our walks of obedience to the Lord. For to love God is to obey him, which includes honoring him as the Holy God that he is, and which includes us forsaking our lives of living for sin and for self, and which includes us now walking in his ways and in his truth and us no longer walking in the ways of the flesh and of the sinful world.
Jesus was more concerned with holiness and righteousness than he was concerned with being culturally acceptable. He knew why he came to earth. He knew that it was to suffer and die for our sins so that we might be delivered from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin so that we can now live as slaves of God and of his righteousness. And we should know that we were put here on this earth not for ourselves but that we might give God glory and honor by surrendering our lives to him and by walking in his ways.
And we learn about this walk of faith in Jesus Christ both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Yes, we are not under the Old Covenant, but we are under the New Covenant. And yes, we don’t have to obey all those liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial and purification laws and customs that the Jews of old had to obey. But God’s moral laws remained. He still demands submission, obedience, forsaking of sins, righteousness, holiness and godliness, but not of ourselves, but in the power of God.
And herein is our hope. For our hope is not based on some artificial or superficial belief in Jesus Christ which does not die with him to sin, which does not submit to him as Lord, and which does not walk with him in obedience to his commands (New Covenant). Our hope is based on what Jesus did for us and on us dying with Christ to sin daily and living daily to God and to his righteousness, for this is the purpose for which Jesus died.
For all this comes from God and is empowered by God and by his Spirit as we surrender our lives to Christ and as we yield control of our lives over to the Lord and we allow him to work his will and his ways within our hearts and minds. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared in advance that we should walk in them in his power and wisdom and strength.
So, the harmony that we are to have with one another has to first of all be harmony with God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and it must be harmony with the teachings of Christ and of the New Testament apostles, i.e. with the written Word of God. And it must involve us living in harmony with the Lord and with his Word through us spending time in his word and in prayer and then in obedience to what the Word teaches us we must do. And then we can live in harmony with those who are also living in harmony with God.
And then we can be one voice glorifying God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ because that one voice is the testimony of God the Father and of Jesus Christ and of His Spirit who now lives within us. But this will never happen if we are following men and their humanistic philosophies and their twisting of the Scriptures to please human flesh instead of to please God. So if men are not teaching repentance, obedience to the Lord, and submission to Christ as Lord, then they are not of God and we should reject them.
So, follow the teachings of the Scriptures not the teachings of humans who may not have the mind of Christ but who may be wolves in sheep’s clothing out to deceive and to manipulate you into believing their lies and into rejecting the truth. Know the truth from reading the Scriptures in their context, and then walk in the truth by the grace of God and in his power.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]
Lyrics by Noah White, Music by Virgil Stamps (1935)
As I travel thru life, with its trouble and strife,
I’ve a glorious hope to give cheer on the way;
Soon my toils will be o’er and I’ll rest on that shore,
Where the night has been turned into day.
Up in paradise valley By the side of the river of life,
Up in paradise valley, We’ll be free from all pain and all strife;
There we’ll live in the garden, ‘Neath the shade of the evergreen tree,
How I long for the paradise valley, Where the beauty of heaven I’ll see.
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