1 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Chapter 15 continues the argument from chapter 14 about how the mature are to treat weaker Christians.
Mature Christians are not to despise other Christians (14:1-12).
Mature Christians are not to hinder the growth of weaker Christians (14:13-23).
Mature Christians are to follow the example of Christ in treatment of weaker Christians (15:1-13).
1 We [emphatic] then who are strong
“Strong” here are mature believers who understand their liberty in Christ. Paul classified himself as “strong.” Strong or mature believers should operate in an attendant manner with greater nobility.
“Ought” is a divine obligation, a requirement of the Christian faith. It is a requirement of mature believers to help weak Christians, not to stunt their spiritual development. This is a divine debt of a strong believer.
to bear with
The Greek word for “to bear with” conveys the idea of picking up and carrying a burden. Soldiers physically carried Paul when the mob became violent (Ac 21:35). The idea is that we are not to simply tolerate weak Christians but to carry them through their inadequate view of Scripture. The mature must relinquish their liberty temporarily for the weak.
The idea of bearing the scruples of immature Christians does not carry the idea of tolerating them. It means that we should help them with their weakness to become mature believers. Bearing here has to do with foregoing something legitimate for the sake of the growth of another person.
The strong have an obligation toward the weak spiritually; they need to adjust their attitude toward people who operate on scruples. Those who have a good grasp of grace tend to resent people who are captivated in legalism.
the scruples of the weak,
“Weak” refers to the immature believer. The believer who operates with “scruples” demonstrates weakness. The mature Christian is to bear with the weaknesses of the weak. This is a play on words emphasizing the extensive weakness of immature Christians. The weak have consciences that hold standards that go beyond Scripture. The strong can bear with the weak without violating the conscience of the immature believer.
and not to please ourselves.
Mature believers are not to please themselves when it comes to relating to immature believers. “Please” here does not refer to fawning over people in operating like a parasite. No, the thought here is to carry a conciliatory attitude toward those who have not grown in Christ. Thoughtless use of liberty can blunt growth in others.
Ph 2:21, For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.
Christians have a divine debt toward other believers.
Mature Christians should not be self-centered but other centered. They should carry a sense of obligation toward weak believers. Those who have grown in Christ should give primary concern to the spiritual welfare of others. We should give consideration as to how our actions affect others. Selfishness is an obstacle to Christian relationships. Self-sacrifice is a sign of a mature Christian. Foregoing legitimate liberty is a manifestation of love for others.