Mighty God, your presence, purposes, and power are always with me. I praise you for your blessings to me.
Read ROMANS 14:10-18
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Every knee will bow before me’ (v 11), says the Lord. Take a moment to worship Almighty God.
Here, Paul drills down further into how we live lovingly when consciences are in conflict. I remember once as a young Christian, out for a meal with friends, refusing to go into a restaurant to eat. My friends hunted for a less attractive option which wouldn’t offend my conscience! They were acting lovingly; Paul had no such qualms (v 14). Jesus himself affirmed that all foods are ‘clean’.1 Peter’s vision in Joppa taught him that all food was acceptable.2
Ignoring others’ scruples about how they live for God may bring offense and distress to some of our brothers and sisters in Christ (v 15). Likewise, insistence on others doing the fine detail of what we believe to be right may put a ‘stumbling- block’ (v 13) in their way. The hurt which we cause by our sense of ‘right’ can be unloving and destructive of faith (v 15).
How then should we live with fellow believers whose practices differ from our own? Paul takes us back to essentials of our faith: ‘righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit’ (v 17). This life is God-focused, Christ-centered, and Spirit-filled. We serve a King, we are forgiven people for whom Christ died (v 15), the Holy Spirit lives within us – and the fruit of God’s life is seen as we serve Christ and others.3 The variety of practices that characterize our lives may be the result of conscience-driven choices made to honor Christ. We may have different opinions. But God is pleased by each person’s honest, heartfelt desire to serve him (vs 17,18). Loving our brother or sister in Christ may mean putting aside our own freedoms. If our faith is ‘strong’ there is no difficulty in being tolerant and respectful of others’ convictions.
Lord God, forgive me for ways in which I am contemptuous of others (v 10). Change me that I might live and love as you love me.
Gracious Father, reveal to me any attitude I have toward fellow believers that is not honoring to you. Enable me to have a change of heart.
1 Mark 7:18,19 2 Acts 10:9–23 3 Gal 5:13–15; 22–26
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