God is intimate and personal, giving each the conscience he needs. #Godslove
Romans 14:22-23 “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
There is a tremendous amount at stake in how we relate to one another as believers, no matter the place each is in his or her walk. A dying world watches how we behave. After all, our mission while on this earth is to go out into it, telling them of Jesus Christ and what He offers in salvation. The world will not be inclined to want to be part of a group of people who can’t even get along with each other, especially when it is over non-essential things. Paul tells us that our liberties and our convictions over these non-essential matters are ours and have been given to us by the Holy Spirit. They were not given to us to lord over others, whether we consider them weaker in the faith or not. If you know freedom in Christ and do not feel constrained by conviction over food and drink or any other temporal act that does not affect sanctification or salvation, then enjoy those freedoms yourself. Do not flaunt them before others. If in your faith you are convicted by some of those same things, then you must listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life who convicts you of them and abstain. There is a reason He speaks to your conscience in such a manner, but do not judge if He hasn’t given the same convictions to a brother or sister. Our God is an intimately involved God, knowing each of us at our cores. He has given to each of us what is necessary for our sanctification. May we rejoice in this personal attention and love.
Study/Meditation: In 1 Corinthians 10:22-24, Paul’s final exhortation on this topic is, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Why do you think he says this last? How did Christ depict these principles?
*Father, thank You for loving me so individually. You are righteous and holy and wonderful, and I praise You in all things. Amen.
Let us not seek to destroy the work of #God for the sake of our own #liberties.
Romans 14:20-21 “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.”
The gravity of Paul’s statement might be easy to overlook in favor of concentrating more on causing our brother to stumble. Indeed that is the point of this entire passage. We must never flaunt our Christian liberties to the detriment of one who is offended by those acts. When we cause them to take offense, we have caused them to sin against us and thereby stumble in their walks with Christ. Doing so for the sake of freedom in a temporal thing—food, drink, cards, recreation, language, etc.—is irresponsible. However, the serious nature of that irresponsibility lies in Paul’s wording in verse 20, “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God.” When we do not take the faith of others and our responsibility to not cause a stumbling in that faith seriously, we risk destroying the work of God. We must remember that all of us are God’s workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus for good works,” and that includes every believer at every stage in their walk of faith. (Ephesians 2:10) Just as none of us would walk up to a museum in Paris and take a magic marker to defame and destroy any of the masterpieces therein, so we should likewise refrain from destroying God’s works of art, which are His children, by causing them to stumble. Once again we are reminded that Christianity requires the truest form of humility, placing the good of others above what we perceive as our own. (1 Corinthians 10:24)
Study/Meditation: Read 1 Corinthians 10:23-33. How is Paul teaching this same concept in his first letter to the Corinthians?
*Father, keep me ever mindful of my brothers and sisters in Christ, doing all that I can to edify and enrich their lives. Amen.
Seeking peace requires absolute humility. #peace
Romans 14:19 “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
What does it look like when we actually “pursue” something? Paul uses this particular Greek word purposefully. It is “dioko,” and it means “to chase down something vigorously.” Paul is telling us that in our fellowship with one another, we are to “vigorously chase down” things that bring peace and build each other up. It’s interesting that the things we are instructed to pursue in our relationships in the body of Christ are things that require absolute humility and “other-centeredness.” We are to purposefully move toward whatever actions and words put ourselves and our needs to be right aside and seek peace with each other. Not only that, we are to actively look for ways that do not affirm ourselves but that affirm and edify our brothers and sisters. These two things require humility and selflessness, which is why Paul writes this so often. In his letter to the Ephesians he urged them to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3) In his first letter to the Corinthians he instructed them to “strive to excel in building up the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:12) Our liberties in Christ should cause us to look completely outside of ourselves and instead bring glory to our Savior by humbly serving our brethren.
Study/Meditation: Read what Paul wrote about seeking unity in the church in Ephesians 4:1-16. What are the things he tells us to “pursue vigorously” in this passage? How might you do that practically in your church?
*Father, give me wisdom in serving my fellow brothers and sisters. Forgive me when I do not do so in humility. Thank You for giving me a family in You. Amen.
Christian lives are about holy living, not rule pounding. #Christianliving
Romans 14:17-18 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.”
It is extraordinarily easy for us to take our eyes off of the ball, isn’t it? When a batter in baseball deviates his concentration from the ball as it approaches the plate, he’ll either miss it or hit it in an unintended direction. The earthly family of imperfect believers can often do the same things in their walks with Christ. Our gazes can stray from what should be our focus and onto things that do not matter in eternity. The result is a skewed life with skewed results. Paul is reminding us that our focus is not on rules and traditions and non-essential matters. The Christian’s focus and his very being should be centered on righteousness, peace, and joy. When we focus on holy living before God instead of legalistic rule-following, we please God and show His holiness to a dying world. When we strive for peace with one another instead of bickering over the little things, we demonstrate the glorious peace our Father offers to His children. When our contentment and joy is in our standing before God and in the Holy Spirit, God is honored and pleased with our hearts, and the world is attracted to what it truly wants more than anything—to be joyful. The Christian life should concentrate on hitting home runs. We do that by directing others to our eternal home by keeping our eyes on the only target that matters—God.
Study/Meditation: Believers can certainly disagree with the lifestyles of unbelievers while still displaying righteousness, peace, and joy. How might that be properly done?
*Father, forgive me when I take my eyes off of You. Help me to remember the essentials in my life and not be sidetracked by things that don’t matter. Amen.
Christian liberty should never be an obstacle in evangelization. #freeinChrist
Romans 14:16 “So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.”
What a wonderful gift we have been given in Christ that frees us from the constraints and legalistic bondage of the law. Jesus has truly procured for us a liberty in Him that frees us to worship and serve Him completely. However, it is possible within our Christian liberty to so abuse that liberty that we damage our witness to the world. Paul has been discussing our care in fellowshipping with our weaker Christian brothers and sisters so as not to discourage them with the liberties in Christ to which we hold. In the next couple of verses, Paul is speaking to our witness to the world of unsaved men and women. We must take care as we evangelize not to flaunt our liberties, which are good, to a world that might construe them as evil, thus damaging our witness in their eyes. Peter gives the same instructions on using our freedoms to damage our witnesses when he said that we are to “Live as people who are free, not using our freedom as a cover up for evil, but living as servants of God.” He went on to say that in our freedoms we must be sure to “Honor everyone.” (1 Peter 2:15-16) The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 instructed the newly converted Gentiles to adhere to a few of the old laws practiced by the Jews there so as not to offend while witnessing to them. (Acts 15:19-21) Let us live as Paul described in his letter to the Corinthians, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)
Study/Meditation: Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. What is Paul’s point to us in this passage? How can you live that out practically in your day to day life?
*Father, help me to be “all things to all people” in a way that glorifies You and shows them Your love and mercy. Amen.
Self-righteousness can destroy more than mere friendships. #Christianlove
Romans 14:15 “For it your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”
This verse really brings home the point of Paul’s rather lengthy dissertation on conviction over non-essential beliefs. He simply reminds us that if we stand so firmly on our own convictions about one of these kinds of things to the point of hurting or confusing or discouraging a brother or sister, then we are not acting in love. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This is a weighty matter, and it encompasses so many areas where we can opt in favor of our own perceived righteousness over what is loving toward our brethren. Paul is dealing here in the area of food and drink, but it could be a matter of something less tangible, as in winning an argument or forgiving a trespass. How can we discourage and hurt a child of God, one “for whom Christ died,” simply so that we are right? If our perspective is truly one of eternity, then the temporary things of this world will be slight in our estimation and unworthy of conflict. Certainly this must be the case in matters like these non-essential ones when they cause friction and misery between brothers and sisters. Let us demonstrate that we are the bride of Christ in all of our lives, but most especially in the way that we exhibit love for one another.
Study/Meditation: Read John 13:31-35. What significance is there that Jesus gave His disciples this commandment on loving one another at this particular moment?
*Father, forgive me of my pride as I live with my fellow brothers and sisters. Help me see the areas where I need to be more pliable and exhibit more love toward others. Amen.