We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.…
The context suggests —
1. That conscientiousness has respect often to very unimportant matters. Some Christians in Rome had a conscientious belief concerning diet. There have always been men in the Church who have made a conscience of trifles.
2. That the conscientiousness of one man is no rule for the conduct of another. Because one man in the Church exalts trifles, whilst respecting his sincerity, I am not bound to follow his example.
3. That conscientiousness directed to unimportant matters indicates great weakness of character. Men who attach importance to trifles Paul regards as "weak" men. Now what is the duty of strong men to such? Not to despise and denounce them; to force them to renounce their trivialities nor to grant them a mere toleration; but to bear their infirmities. This is a duty —
I. NOT VERY PLEASANT TO SELF. The language seems to imply that it would be more pleasant to detach one's self altogether from such. Nothing is more irritating to strong men than the twaddlings of little souls. But Paul says, notwithstanding the disagreeableness of it, you must come down to their little world, and be loving and magnanimous. Don't kick at their toys, but show them something better. The most painful thing is that they regard themselves as strong, and that in proportion to their very feebleness is their insolence. If they confessed their weakness there would be some pleasure in "bearing their infirmities."
II. TRULY GRATIFYING TO THE WEAK (ver. 2).
1. The weak man, by this treatment, is gratified by the reception of "good." The breath of a nobler spirit upon him has dispersed in some measure the fumes about his soul, broadened his horizon, and touched him into a fresher life. He is pleased because his moral circulation is quickened, and he feels himself a stronger man.
2. The "good" he has received is through his "edification." Not through flattering his prejudices, but by indoctrinating his soul with higher truths.
III. PRE-EMINENTLY CHRISTLIKE (ver. 3). To "bear the infirmities" of others Christ sacrificed Himself. How Christ bore with His disciples
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.