The above exhortation is taken from Romans 15:1-3,
“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.”

Pleasing Defined

The term “neighbour” does not refer to those that reside beside us in our places of dwelling. In the context of Romans 14-15, it refers to fellow brethren in the church. As fellow brethren, we must seek to please one another.

To please one another certainly does not mean that we should be men-pleasers. Such an attitude is contrary to the Scriptures, and is decried by Paul himself. “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10) As Christians, we must seek to glorify God alone. Christ must increase and we must decrease.

The pleasing of one’s neighbour is defined and qualified at the end of verse 2 where Paul says it is “for his good unto edification”. This “good” refers to all that is good and healthy for the spiritual growth of our breth-ren. If our brother in Christ is in need of comfort, we will be there to com-fort. If he is in need of encouragement, we will be there to encourage. If he needs to be admonished, we must likewise warn and rebuke with all meekness and fear.

The purpose of pleasing is “edification”. (oikodomē). This word conveys the picture of a building in the process of being constructed (i.e. the act of building). Hence, Paul was saying that Christians must not follow the world in tearing one another down, but rather build one another up in the faith. Whatever we do must be to the spiritual benefit of our fellow breth-ren. This is what it means to please our neighbour.

Pleasing Obligated

In every society, the tendency of the strong is to bully the weak. Many will use their power and authority to further their own gains, rather than to seek to improve the lives of others. They are looking for opportunities to exploit others and gain an advantage. They are seeking to please them-selves and not others. The church must not be like the world. Christians must not seek to please themselves. Attending church is not to gain busi-ness contacts, social status, fame or power. We must rather seek the good of our fellow brethren.

In every congregation, there will be those who are spiritually “strong” and those who are spiritually immature and weak. Paul here instructs us that the strong “ought to” bear the “infirmities of the weak”. The verb “ought to” (opheilomen) has the idea of someone who owes a debt. In other words, those who are spiritually strong are indebted to help the weak! It is not an option but an obligation.

It is interesting that Paul begins verse 1 with an emphatic “we”. Paul is therefore identifying himself with those who are spiritually strong. Paul is thus saying that as one who is spiritually mature, he has the moral obliga-tion to help those who are weak. To whom more is given, more is de-manded. Therefore, by writing the epistle, Paul was patiently correcting and pointing the Roman church towards the right direction. He was bear-ing their weaknesses and taking it upon himself. Paul was by the grace of God a most excellent pastor who practised what he preached. Now, he exhorts those who are spiritually mature to do likewise.

Pleasing Demonstrated

While Paul was a wonderful demonstration of what it means to “please one another”, the example par excellence is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Paul quotes Psalm 69:9 to prove his point. “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that re-proached thee are fallen upon me.” Jesus was consumed by zeal concern-ing the purity of worship in the temple. Because of His zeal, the reproach-es that were vented against God by men were now fallen upon Christ. He willingly suffered for the sake of men, and went to the cross to die for our sins.

For the sake of the glory of God, and for the salvation of men, Christ sought not to please Himself, but to fulfill the will of the Father. If Christ took our reproaches upon himself when we were his enemies, surely we ought to be just as forbearing with those who are spiritually weak!


The world teaches us to seek our own good rather than the good of others. On the other hand, the teaching of Romans 15:1-3 teaches us otherwise. We are obligated to do good to others, and provoke one another unto love and unto good works. Why then are we here in church? Are we seeking our own glory? Are we seeking to take advantage of others for our own gain? Or are we here to build one another up in the most holy faith? Let us all seek to please our neighbour for his good unto edification. Amen.

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew