Romans 15:2 – Build-up, Not Tear-down
Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.
Truth to Learn
We are to focus on the good of others and on ways to build them up, not on ways to tear them down.
Behind the Words
The word translated “please” is a form of the Greek verb areskō, which means “to make one inclined to or to soften one’s heart towards another.” This particular form of the verb is in the present tense and imperative mood. The imperative mood means that Paul is not simply suggesting that this might be a good idea, rather he is commanding us to do this. Also, according to the Complete Word Study Dictionary, “the present tense denotes intentional, deliberate, and continuous conduct; yet the word involves a relationship prior to behavior. It is actually satisfying or behaving properly toward one with whom one is related.”
“Neighbor” is from the Greek noun plēsion, which is based on the word pelas, meaning “near” or “close to.” Hence, plēsion refers to someone who is physically close to you, that is, your neighbor. Metaphorically, it refers to anyone whom you encounter in your walk through this life.
“Edification” is from oikodomē, which we looked at back in Romans 14:19. It is made up of oikos, meaning “a family dwelling place” and a form of demo, meaning “to build.” Literally, oikodomē means “to build a house.” By application it means “to build-up, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.”
We have just been taught that those of us who are strong in our faith need to bear with the weaknesses of those who are less mature in their Christian faith. And, we just saw that the word translated “to bear” means “to lift up” or “to provide support.” Now the Apostle Paul teaches us that we are to please our neighbor for his good, not for our own. This is nearly a restatement of what we were told back in Romans 14:19;
Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
In that verse Paul emphasized us pursuing the things which produce peace and the things which build-up someone else. In the current verse Paul’s exhortation again includes building up someone else, but it focuses on pleasing our neighbor.
In other words, we are to behave in a particular way to those around us, those whom we encounter in life. We are to treat them in such a way as to make them feel good and warm hearted. If you have ever had a dispute with a next door neighbor or someone with whom you work, then you know how difficult this can be. Paul’s point, however, is that we should constantly be acting in such a way toward those around us that they will be impressed with the way Christians behave.
Yet again, we see that the proper attitude of a follower of Christ is to be focused on the good of others rather than his or her own good. That’s what Jesus’ life was all about. He humbled himself and offered His perfect life on the cross for our sake, not His own. We need to emulate His life. Remember, you may be the only Bible that your neighbor will ever read! Do your neighbors see Jesus Christ in you?
In God’s service, for His glory,
Copyright © 2011 Will Krause. All rights reserved.
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