We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.…
Here, as Godet says, "the particular question treated in ch. 14. broadens; the point of view rises, and the tone is gradually heightened even to the elevation of a hymn, as at the end of all the great parts preceding (Romans 5:12, et seq.; 8:31, et seq.; 11:33, et seq.). Paul first exhorts, by the example of Christ, to mutual condescension (vers. 1-3); he points out (vers. 4-7), as an end to be reached, the common adoration to which such conduct will bring the Church; finally (vers. 8-13), he indicates the 'special' part given to Jews and to Gentries in this song of the whole redeemed race. It as not now so much the particular question which has just been dealt with, as the whole question of which that was but a part, viz. the relation of a free, spiritual Christianity to the more or less Judaic Christianity of some, to which the apostle here directs his words. They are to be of one mind, that they may with one mouth glorify God.
I. A MUTUAL LOVE. The strong ought to show their strength by bearing the infirmities of the weak. And not only will their strength thus be most perfectly shown, but the love, which is more than strength. For this love is the law of the new life. Shall we then please ourselves, by pluming ourselves on our liberty, our superior faith? Nay, rather, we must seek, in love, to please our neighbour. But not merely as pleasing him, though this is an end to be sought; but as pleasing him in harmony with all right principle, viz. for his good, unto edifying. There must be the desire to contribute comfort, joy; but, above this, and as controlling all else, the desire to contribute to his building up in holiness and love. And what is our great inspiration to this helpfulness of sacrificing love? We have the mind of Christ! Did he please himself? How, then, had we been saved? Nay, rather, for our sake he gave up all. In him was seen pre-eminently the spirit of sacrifice expressed in the ancient words, "The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell upon me." And as generally the ancient Scriptures were written that we might also endure all things for God's sake, being comforted of God, and so have hope of the perfect salvation at last, ought we not in this particular respect to make the sacrifice required, bearing even the weak scruples of our brethren, that together, through God's comfort, we may have hope of heaven? Yes, we must be "of the same mind one with another according to Christ Jesus."
II. A COMMON PRAISE. What shall be the result of loving like-mindedness, in which all differences are sunk? A glorifying of God, with one accord. And the one united psalm shall be but the expression of one common thanksgiving, filling the hearts of all, for the love wherewith God hath loved them. Is not this the end of all God's redeeming work, that all should join in loving praise to God, being redeemed with one common redemption - a praise shown forth, not only with the lips, but in the lives? So should all things be made new. To this end was Christ's work, that Jew and Gentile together might be saved by a true and merciful God. The ancient Scriptures foresaw this grand result, the blending of Gentile and Jewish praise in one large harmony. So David's declaration (Psalm 18:49); so the invitation of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:43); so again the psalmist (Psalm 117:1); and so Isaiah's prophecy of hope: all of which could find their true fulfilment only in such a loving union of the Jewish and Gentile world in the glad service of their one God and Christ as now filled the apostle's view. One chief guarantee of the mutual love and common praise shall be the united hope of a perfect salvation. Let them look to God for this, and he shall grant them a faith, and a realized power of God through faith, which shall give them joy and peace now, amid whatever outward disturbances, as being the pledge of all things good guaranteed to us for that future. So should their songs abound; so should their hearts be one: praise helping love, and love helping praise, and God all in all! - T.F.L.
Parallel VersesKJV: We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.