Romans 14 always brings to forefront tears for me as I see the Body of Christ being torn asunder with differing opinions. I have to step aside and ask is there a grain of truth in this ounce of criticism and if so in light of eternity is this something I need to alter in my life so that the enemy will not use as his tool to divide the fellowship of my church/fellowship of believers? Maybe that is the question we must all ask ourselves as there are many in the church and outside the church that cry: Hypocrite! Hypocrite! We could all share from our experiences family members, friends, co-workers, etc. that have said this to us and it causes us to cringe. Could it be that in some respects they are right? Let’s dig in and see what we are to learn and then more practically what we are to apply.
Paul addresses this full head on in chapter 14 but does not use the word hypocrite but rather bluntly says “do not condemn” and “do not judge.” Yesterday we talked about how to live righteously in an unrighteous world. Today Paul asks us the same question but in regards to how we live in the Body of Christ. Again we need to come back to our premise of yesterday: we are to love our neighbor and sometimes loving comes at a price, comes when we are face to face with those who differ with us. How do we do that lovingly? That is the question.
First off, Paul addressed two situations that the church in Rome was experiencing and which we find are the same two that are still with us today: food/drink and days on which we worship. Some say it is ok to eat certain foods, another says no. Some say it is ok to drink alcohol and another says no. Some say you must worship only on Saturday and others say not so, worship on Sunday or any other day is ok. Oh the tools that Satan uses to divide and he will use whatever he can to destroy the Body of Christ. We must remember that our enemy, Satan, is wily, and he knows where we are weak and where we are strong. (2Co 2:11 Satan… (for we are not ignorant of his schemes); and in fact he often disguises himself as an angel of light (2Cor 11:4). He will seek to divide and cause disunity and what better place than within the Body of Christ? Let’s get practical here and see what the Word of God says.
Paul uses very strong language in this situation: vs 4 “Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant?” Then he also reminds us that we are “not to condemn” nor are we to “judge.” And if we didn’t get those phrases he adds another: DO NOT to be a stumbling block for another. So if we are not to do that, then what key elements should be a part of our life?
Beloved, the key is found in vs 7: “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
14:19 “So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another.” Did you note that the word peace seems to be cropping up over and over from chapter 12 to 14? Did you also note that he inserts peace between righteousness and joy? If you do a search you will find that Paul used that word 13 times in this book.
Today may we seek peace above all else. May this be our mandate for today, Rom 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. And if we disagree on the points of food/drink and days–remember that Satan is lurking, waiting and looking for ways to divide us. Ecc 4:12 Although an assailant may overpower one person, two can withstand him. Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken. Let’s keep the three strand:
J – Jesus O- Others Y- Yourself = Jesus righteousness, peace, joy