S15P1 – Brotherly love: self-denial

Romans 15:1-3
Now we who are strong ought to put up with the weaknesses of those who are not strong, and not just please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up spiritually. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You (the Father) fell on Me (the Son).”

Pleasure is a great worldly motivator. Oh what hours does man spend slaving for the sake of being able to afford the most expensive dinners and exclusive vacations. We live in a culture that craves self-gratification by a measure rarely seen in past eras. From clothes to cars to jewelry to food to entertainment, a driving motivation is pleasing oneself. The practice of making these and other decisions based primarily on the pleasure we hope to derive puts us in a habit of having a self-centered focus. As a member of God’s family, however, we instead are called to self-sacrifice [Matt. 16:24].

These verses instruct us to be long-suffering, bearing with the weaknesses of others even though we may be spiritually stronger. But we are not to be long-suffering for what we get out of it. We are to be focused on what our weak brother gets out of it. We remain long-suffering with others for their benefit. When I encourage my sister, it is to elevate her and not myself. This is an other-centered approach that takes us out of the equation and focuses on the good of another. This was the attitude of Jesus Christ when He bore on himself the hatred that the world felt for the Father, which culminated in his death. The rejection of Christ was the rejection of the Father [John 12: 46-50]. And for our sake Jesus bore that contempt.

If our brother is weaker, our goal should be to raise him. We are called to be driven by compassion and understanding, but not for our sake. This is not for accolades or pats on the back; this is for the purpose of serving the brethren as God has commanded. We are called to put ourselves to the side for those who desperately need us to focus on them and encourage them, and we do so for their good. Father, instill in us the selflessness of Jesus Christ, making us willing to take up our crosses daily for the sake of the good of others.