“Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (Romans 15:2)
Yikes! Whatever happened to you can’t please everyone? Okay, lay some context on me, please:
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written,”The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” (Romans 15:1-3)
Ah, there, Paul is continuing his discourse from Romans 14 on the varying convictions in the Body and saying we should be sensitive to the weaker consciences some of our brothers and sisters have, that we shouldn’t criticize them for having stricter standards than us, but tolerate them rather than insisting on pleasing ourselves.
I don’t know if this means to let our church service be dictated by the person who complains a style of music offends them. I doubt this means if one person in our family becomes a vegetarian, or if one person at the church supper is a vegan, that we all have to eat that way to please them. I doubt this means if one brother or sister is an alcoholic, the rest of us can’t drink up in front of them. After all, it’s not our fault if they give in and crack one open . . .
Oh wait. That last one is exactly what Paul means. We are not to lay a stumbling block before our brother and sister. If we know they are weak, if we know they can’t handle something, we should refrain from our liberty, and not serve that drink, not wear that garment that shows off skin and/or the contours of our body, not play that violent, gory video game/movie around them, or do anything else that will cause our brother and sister to do something that will violate their conscience and sin before God–even if our own is perfectly clear and we think their conviction silly.
But let’s not let someone confuse us who is offended at us who isn’t sincerely tempted to violate their own conscious and stumble and fall. Is the hymn lover seriously tempted to sing along to a chorus–do they seriously even think it is a sin to? Likewise, is the vegan or vegetarian really so weak they’ll eat the main dish that does have meat in it rather than the meatless main dish that was provided them? Do they really think it would be a sin if they did? (If the answer is yes to both questions, then don’t serve the meat! LOL.)
Of course, if it is your conviction being a people pleaser is what this passage means, let me build you up by encouraging you to, by all means, live according to that belief, if that is what you sincerely, truly believe God has called you to do. I fear you’ll burn out and have to reconsider whether that call really came from God, but who am I to judge another man’s servant?
Lord, grant us wisdom to discern what requests are truly to the benefit and spiritual good of our neighbor, lest in pleasing them, we hurt them and you. Increase our love, so that we would be sick to our stomachs at the mere thought of selfishly waving before a believer what will cause them to sin, deliberately tempting them to disobey what they feel you have told them. Since many can be too embarrassed to speak up, grant us sensitivity, to recognize what is a stumbling block to one another, so we might not in our liberty cause others to sin. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.