So sang Ricky Nelson in his 1972 hit, “Garden Party.” But Paul had other ideas in Romans 15. Not that we should please everybody (cf Luke 6:26), but we should do our best to live in such a way as to edify our neighbors (v 2).
Verse 3 is an interesting statement, as Jesus is held up as the prime example of living to please others. Christ certainly didn’t please everyone, but the welfare and good of others was a defining characteristic of His life.
Moreover, “You” in the quote of verse 3 (cf Ps 69:9) refers to the Father. Thus, Jesus’ forbearance with others was accomplished so that He might bear the reproaches aimed at His Father by those same individuals.
Paul moves on mid-chapter to speak of the mutual glorification of God by both Jew and Gentile. I never cease to be amazed at the obtuseness of the Jews regarding the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Gospel Dispensation. From James’ commentary in Acts 15:14-18 concerning Amos 9:11-12 to these presently cited passages, the Old Testament is filled with passages pointing to Gentiles as being fellow-heirs of the grace of God that would come through Abraham and his seed.
Finally, beginning in verse 30, we find Paul asking the brethren to pray with him for a specific set of outcomes. In these we see how God answers prayer.
First, Paul prayed that he might be delivered from the unbelieving Jews in Judea (31a). Of course, these very ones caused him to be arrested, beaten, and ultimately sent to trial in Rome (Acts 16-28). So, sometimes God says “No.”
Second, Paul prayed for the acceptance of his benevolence (31b). The benevolence gathered for the saints at Jerusalem was accepted to much praise and thanksgiving to God (2 Cor 9:12-15). So, sometimes God says “Yes.”
Third, Paul prayed that he might visit the brethren at Rome in joy by the will of God. Paul did indeed visit Rome as a prisoner of the government, joyful to be alive after storms, shipwreck and snakebite (Acts 27-28). But I don’t think that was what Paul had in mind about visiting with joy by the will of God. So, sometimes God says “Yes. But in My way and not yours.”
What a marvelous and encouraging chapter!