1. We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
1. Debemus autem nos qui potentes sumus, infirmitates impotentium portare, et non placere nobis ipsis:
2. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
2. Unusquisque enim nostrum proximo placeat in bonum, ad aedificationem.
3. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
3. Etenim Christus non placuit sibi ipsi; sed quemadmodum scriptum est, Opprobria exprobrantium tibi, ceciderunt super me.
1. We then who are strong, etc. Lest they who had made more advances than others in the knowledge of God should think it unreasonable, that more burden was to be laid on them than on others, he shows for what purpose this strength, by which they excelled others, was bestowed on them, even that they might so sustain the weak as to prevent them to fall. For as God has destined those to whom he has granted superior knowledge to convey instruction to the ignorant, so to those whom he makes strong he commits the duty of supporting the weak by their strength; thus ought all gifts to be communicated among all the members of Christ. The stronger then any one is in Christ, the more bound he is to bear with the weak.
By saying that a Christian ought not to please himself, he intimates, that he ought not to be bent on satisfying himself, as they are wont to be, who are content with their own judgment, and heedlessly neglect others: and this is indeed an admonition most suitable on the present subject; for nothing impedes and checks acts of kindness more than when any one is too much swallowed up with himself, so that he has no care for others, and follows only his own counsels and feelings.
2. Let indeed every one of us, etc. He teaches us here, that we are under obligations to others, and that it is therefore our duty to please and to serve them, and that there is no exception in which we ought not to accommodate ourselves to our brethren when we can do so, according to God's word, to their edification.
There are here two things laid down, -- that we are not to be content with our own judgment, nor acquiesce in our own desires, but ought to strive and labor at all times to please our brethren, -- and then, that in endeavoring to accommodate ourselves to our brethren, we ought to have regard to God, so that our object may be their edification; for the greater part cannot be pleased except you indulge their humor; so that if you wish to be in favor with most men, their salvation must not be so much regarded, but their folly must be flattered; nor must you look to what is expedient, but to what they seek to their own ruin. You must not then strive to please those to whom nothing is pleasing but evil.
3. For even Christ pleased not himself, etc. Since it is not right that a servant should refuse what his lord has himself undertaken, it would be very strange in us to wish an exemption from the duty of bearing the infirmities of others, to which Christ, in whom we glory as our Lord and King, submitted himself; for he having no regard for himself, gave up himself wholly to this service. For in him was really verified what the Prophet declares in Psalm 69:9,10: and among other things he mentions this, that |zeal for God's house had eaten him up,| and that |the reproaches of those who reproached God fell on him.| By these words it is intimated, that he burned with so much fervor for God's glory that he was possessed by such a desire to promote his kingdom, that he forgot himself, and was, as it were, absorbed with this one thought, and that he so devoted himself to the Lord that he was grieved in his soul whenever he perceived his holy name exposed to the slandering of the ungodly.
The second part, |the reproaches of God,| may indeed be understood in two ways, -- either that he was not less affected by the contumelies which were heaped on God, than if he himself had endured them, -- or, that he grieved not otherwise to see the wrong done to God, than if he himself had been the cause. But if Christ reigns in us, as he must necessarily reign in his people, this feeling is also vigorous in our hearts, so that whatever derogates from the glory of God does not otherwise grieve us than if it was done to ourselves. Away then with those whose highest wish is to gain honors from them who treat God's name with all kinds of reproaches, tread Christ under foot, contumeliously rend, and with the sword and the flame persecute his gospel. It is not indeed safe to be so much honored by those by whom Christ is not only despised but also reproachfully treated.