Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.…
1. The apostle makes a special application of this principle to the conduct of the strong towards the weak. Taken by itself, it is the injunction of the comprehensive duty of courtesy. The etymology and frequent usage of the word would confine it to what is outward, i.e., polished manners. Court, courtier, courtesy, are nearly allied. But the word has a higher meaning. To court is to endeavour to please; courtesy is the desire and effort to please arising from a good motive and directed to a right end. The sycophant desires to please, but not for edification. He acts from a selfish motive for a selfish object. Every Christian, so far as his Christianity moulds and controls his character, is courteous.
2. The sum of Christian wisdom is to be Christlike (ver. 3). Nothing can exceed the courtesy of Christ and His condescension, kindness, and tenderness to the humble, poor, suffering, and penitent. "Woman, hath no man condemned thee?" etc. Many of the earlier Christians wished to expunge that paragraph. But no purer, brighter ray shines upon the life of our Lord than that which fell upon Him when He uttered these words.
I. COURTESY HAS A NEGATIVE SIDE. It is manifested by avoiding to give pain —
1. By impressing others with their inferiority, their position, knowledge, talents, force in argument, liberality. The strong among the Romans despised the narrowness and weakness of their scrupulous brethren.
2. By in any way hurting their feelings.
II. THE POSITIVE OF THIS VIRTUE is the endeavour to please, to heal wounded feelings, to inspire confidence and affection.
(C. Hodge, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.