Your sanctification is tailor-made for you! Rejoice in that love! #loveofGod
Romans 14:5-6 “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”
Once again, keeping in mind that Paul is addressing the way Christians handle minor differences among themselves and not basic tenets of the gospel, we see him go straight to the heart of every matter within the believer’s life—what are our motivations? When conviction strikes us over a minor practice or observance yet there are those in the body of believers who are not convicted over the same thing, on what do we base our course in living? Paul tells us to look to our own hearts, to measure our own faith. If a practice convicts us, then it does so because the Holy Spirit has deemed it necessary to do so for our own sanctification. Though we are all saved by the same Spirit through the same Christ to the same salvation, we are all magnificently different. My faith is sometimes strengthened and might also be weakened by different things and occasions than yours. My sanctification is individually tailored to my needs; therefore I must look to my own heart and be convinced within it, not judging others by what the Spirit is working in me. How wonderful that our Lord loves us and grows us so personally! We should rejoice in this kind of awe-inspiring and intimate love.
Study/Meditation: Read Colossians 2:16-17. What point is Paul making in this passage?
*Father, thank You for loving me so personally. Thank You for tailoring my sanctification specifically to me. You are awesome and worthy of all honor, praise, and glory! Amen.
Divisive behavior, in any form, is unacceptable within the church. #harmony
Romans 14:3b-4 “…for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
As we keep this passage in context with what Paul has been speaking on, he is now reminding us that ultimately we all have the same Master and Lord. We will all be sustained in our faith by Him as well as stand before Him one day in judgment of that faith. Once again, the issue at hand is nominal differences of opinion on practicing our faith that should not impede our fellowship with one another. The issue is not judging things that compromise the gospel or moral behavior. We are assuredly to distinguish between those things within the body of believers. However, Paul is speaking to more nonessential practices like who eats meat or abstains from it or who drinks wine or abstains from it. Today these kinds of divisive and unnecessary arguments within the believing community might be service times on Sunday morning or whether or not to permit blue jeans in church. These kinds of differences within our convictions must not be the basis for arguments or division. We are to trust that God is Lord, and He is sanctifying each one of us in His time and according to His ways. Our attitude is to be one of love as we remember Paul’s words: “It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
Study/Meditation: Read Jeremiah 32:40-41. How do God’s words about His covenant with His people assure us that He never fails to guide any of us?
*Father, give me a heart of love and not a divisive spirit. Convict me daily when I stray from Your will to love my fellow brothers and sisters. Amen.
Our love for one another is rooted in God, not in ourselves. #love
Romans 14:2-3a “One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats.”
When we endeavor into a new experience that we care greatly about, we are generally very concerned with the rules. For example, for those of us who are parents, when we had our first child, we followed every rule there was for feeding and taking care of that precious little one. If the books told us not to give them juice until a certain age, then we absolutely avoided that juice. If the manual described the age in which that child should move from a car seat to a toddler seat, we waited until the day after that specified birthday. However, with the second or third child, some of those rules were followed more loosely and some not at all, not because we didn’t care, but because in our experience we were able to see which ones were truly applicable for the baby’s well-being. In neither instance did we love our child less or care less about its safety. It’s just that in our inexperience we needed hard guidelines and they were extremely important to us. This illustration is very similar to what Paul is teaching in these verses. Those who are less experienced in their walk with Christ may find the letter of the law extremely important, even comforting. Conversely, the more seasoned believer whose faith is more mature has a deeper understanding of the law and its purposes, understanding the context of some of the practices during Paul’s day. Neither one is less honoring to God as each seeks to serve Him to their greatest ability. Therefore, neither should pass judgment on the other’s devotion to his or her walk based on the level of their experience. Our love for one another is rooted in God, not in where we are in our walks with Christ.
Study/Meditation: Why do you think this was important enough for Paul to address in his letter to the Romans? Why is it important for us today?
*Father, help me to love my fellow brothers and sisters with a love that is all about You and nothing else. Amen.
Be patient with one another in love. God is not done with any of us yet. #patience
Romans 14:1 “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”
The main theme Paul is still dealing with in this next section is how we are to love one another, and this time it is in relation to love between brethren who are at different levels of faith. Note that the issue is not how to treat brethren who have “no faith” or on matters central to faith in the gospel. There is no wavering among Christians as to the basic tenets of gospel saving faith. There are, however, always going to be members around us whose faith walk has just begun or those who are experienced and more seasoned than us in their faith. Paul is actually reminding us not to let our human condition impede the manner in which we love one another, though we are all different in numerous ways. After all, Jesus himself said He came to call sinners and not the righteous to faith. (Matthew 9:13) If that’s the case, then it would be fairly improbable that seasoned believers walk into a church for the first time. Consequently, we welcome them, not arguing with them or alienating them because of their immature faith. We are to guide them in love and allow God to do the work in their lives that He will do in time. What better place for them to be while this work is being done than in a body of believers who are patient and loving and kind while they are being transformed into the likeness of our Savior. We are all undergoing that process every day and none of us does it perfectly. Love one another, “for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8b)
Study/Meditation: What examples can you think of where we are not to quarrel over issues of maturity in our church? What times should those arguments occur?
*Father, You are sanctifying all of Your children, me included. Help me to be patient with my brothers and sisters as I know You will help them be patient with me. Amen.
Thinking always precedes doing. Guard your thoughts with Jesus. #prayer
Romans 13:13-14 “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
Truly the one thing that sets Christians apart from other beliefs is that we wait eagerly for the Day of the Lord, the moment when Christ returns and takes His children home. As Paul said in Romans 13:12, “The day is at hand.” Jesus is coming soon. Consequently, Paul goes on to tell us that our lives now should be exemplary of that day; we should be living now as citizens of that kingdom. How? Paul uses the phrase, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, cloak yourself in Him, in all that He is and does and promises. Keep His words in your heart and His love in your actions, and you do that by making “no provision for the flesh.” Some of those fleshly corruptions are mentioned in verse 13, and all of them begin with self-indulgence and self-centeredness, and they begin in our minds. When we are lonely or sad in life, we do not turn to drugs or alcohol or food. We turn to the tender comfort of Jesus. When our husbands don’t talk to us or love us like we need him to or our wives don’t desire and touch us like we need her to, we don’t fantasize about Mr. Perfect or think impure thoughts about the next swimsuit model. We think on Jesus and His eternal love that is ours now and forever. When we feel misunderstood or ignored and wronged, we don’t commiserate in thoughts of anger and revenge. We meditate on what is ours in Christ, our eternal Bride and Friend. Let us live today covered in our Cloak and our Shield, our Protector and the Lover of our souls—our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Study/Meditation: What do you think Paul meant by saying that we shouldn’t make any “provision for the flesh”?
*Father, help me to think on You and Your love and comfort, taking hold of my thoughts before they become sinful actions. Amen.
Be vigilant, Christian: the night is far gone and the day is at hand. #warfare
Romans 13:12 “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
On a particularly dark night, when it is difficult to see two feet into the distance, a young soldier watches with diligence. He waits eagerly for the coming light on the horizon, signaling the sun’s entrance, which when it comes will completely wipe the darkness from the sky and with it the danger of an encroaching enemy. So interested in expressing the importance of this reality in the Christian life, Paul draws on this military metaphor. The Christian lives now in that “in-between” moment, waiting eagerly for that beautiful dawn when the glory of Christ comes to earth. The night is far gone in that Christ came. Day is at hand in that He will come again. With that truth in the forefront, Paul again draws on a military metaphor reminding us that the battle we fight while here is indeed a battle. We must be armed with “the armor of light,” the accoutrements of our King, and “cast off the works of darkness,” the schemes and devices of the enemy. Paul desperately wants us to see the reality of the war we are in while we wait, a war that requires our constant vigilance. The dawn of eternal day is almost here, and while we anticipate its coming, we arm ourselves with weapons of light as we do battle with the forces of darkness.
Study/Meditation: Military metaphors are some of Paul’s favorites to use. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, Ephesians 6:13-17, and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. What do all of these passages have in common and what is Paul’s main point in them? How must you practically employ all that he says?
*Father, I wait eagerly for the day when Christ comes. Help me live vigilantly as a soldier of the light as I wait. Amen.