1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Every Christian is called to be a member of the church, where he renders himself for the edification of other Christians. Paul stated this truth earlier in Romans 12:5 – “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” In 1 Corinthians 12, he further emphasised “that the members should have the same care one for another” (v. 25). It is God’s design that we edify one another through mutual care.
The first counsel that Paul gives in our text is let the strong help the weak. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak”. Paul’s use of the word “ought” (opheilo in Greek), which means “owe” or “be a debtor”, suggests that the strong ones must feel an indebtedness to God to help His weak children. The word “bear” (bastazō in Greek) has meanings such as “carry”, “endure” and “support”. Hence, it is the duty of every Christian to bear patiently with the weaker ones around him and help them to walk and grow along with him. He who is spiritually strong should neither despise nor neglect those who are weak. Instead, he graciously renders himself available to support and help them. “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye” (Romans 14:1). In 1 Corinthians 12:22- 24 we read, “Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked”.
Paul’s second counsel for Christians is “not to please ourselves”. A Christian should not be self-centred if he is to help others as God expects. A person’s spiritual maturity is evidenced in his willingness to give up his rights so that others may be helped. We must be willing to deny ourselves if we can promote others’ happiness in doing so. Our conduct should not be motivated by our personal happiness or gratification, but rather by the welfare of others. We must, like Paul, be able to sincerely say, “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more… To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22).