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Do Not Judge One Another (Romans 14:1-12)

Romans 14:1–12 - 1 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. 7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. What does today’s passage say? In today’s passage, Paul urges the believers in Rome not to argue over opinions about what foods to eat or what days are sacred (vv. 1-4). He explains that each follower of Jesus should be fully convinced in their own mind what is right and wrong in these gray areas of the Christian life (vv. 5-6). Though some make specific choices to honor God, others live without those restrictions but are still devoted to the Lord (vv. 6-9). Paul cautions them not to disparage or pass judgment on fellow Christians over these secondary issues since we will all stand before God one day and give an account for our own lives (vv. 10-12). God is responsible to determine each servant’s faithfulness. So we should focus on pursuing what pleases Him rather than critiquing others. How can I apply Romans 14:1-12]to my life? Paul addresses an issue faced by many churches today - how to get along despite differences. Specifically, he provides practical advice about working through disagreements among Christians on issues where Scripture doesn't give direct commands. Things like dietary choices, observance of religious holidays, appropriate entertainment, or schooling options for kids. On topics like these, devoted followers of Jesus can have very different personal standards. These differences can easily become sources of tension, judgment, and division within the church. Paul calls the Roman believers - and us - to a higher path. One that prioritizes love, patience, empathy, and humility with fellow members of Christ's body. Unity in essential doctrines is vital. But we must charitably make space for diversity in convictions over secondary issues. Our supreme focus must be walking faithfully before God rather than scrutinizing and critiquing others. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Accept Other Believers Despite Differences in Convictions (vv. 1-4): Paul's instruction to the church in Rome presents a difficult tension. He urges them not to judge one another on disputable issues like diet or Sabbath-keeping practices. Yet those differences can seem so fundamental to Christian identity. For some, abstaining from alcohol or celebrating Jewish holy days connects deeply to living a holy life. Others feel freedom to handle these personal life decisions in different ways. This passage cautions that these matters should not be used to build walls between believers. Though Christians may differ in their personal standards or convictions over these gray areas, what truly matters is upholding love, peace, and acceptance within Christ's body. Rigid uniformity is unrealistic. Diversity is inevitable in a vibrant church family. Nevertheless, the natural tendency is to elevate our personal convictions as the "right" ones and subtly - or not so subtly - condemn those who differ. This "majoring on minors" fractures fellowship and distracts from the ultimate goal of glorifying Jesus through transformed lives. Rather than fractured judgment, we must extend grace. This does not mean truth doesn't matter. Essential doctrines require unity. But for issues Scripture does not explicitly command or prohibit, humility allows other members of Christ's body to exercise their own Spirit-led conscience. Are we creating unnecessary barriers over preferences or lesser matters? (1 Corinthians 8:9, 13; Ephesians 4:1-3; Colossians 3:12-14)

Food for Thought: What "disputable issues" could I view more charitably rather than critique? How can our church celebrate unity in essentials while allowing diversity in nonessentials?

  1. Live According to Your Own Conscience Before the Lord and Allow Others the Same Freedom (vv. 5-9): In this passage, Paul addresses differences among Christians regarding special days and diet. Some believers feel obligated to honor certain days as holier than others or to follow strict dietary regulations. Their convictions come from a devoted desire to revere God. For others, no days or foods are off limits. Their freedom comes from gratefulness that Christ has made all things clean. Paul states that both perspectives are valid. Each person must live according to their own conscience and convictions before God. It is not our place to condemn others who hold different views on disputable matters. Serving the Lord with sincerity is what matters most. As Christians, we should thoughtfully develop personal standards based on biblical values and the leading of the Holy Spirit. But we must also remember that other followers of Christ have the same freedom to decide what their conscience permits or avoids. We all answer to our own Master - so we must be careful not to judge one another over nonessentials. Our goal should be to walk in love and pursue peace with other members of Christ's body. Issues of diet and holidays should not be sources of division, but rather opportunities to show grace and extend freedom to those with different perspectives (1 Corinthians 10:29-30; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Timothy 1:5-7).

Food for Thought: Are there areas where I have been too judgmental toward fellow believers with different views? How can I balance living by conviction while allowing others freedom in disputable matters?

  1. Refrain From Judging Others Since We All Will Answer to God (vv. 10-12): In this concluding section, Paul makes a sobering statement. As followers of Christ, we will all stand before God and give an account for our lives. We will each answer to God for how we stewarded our time, resources, opportunities, and relationships. Our focus should be figuring out how to please Christ our Master - not nitpicking others’ choices. It’s easy to act as a judge toward fellow believers who hold different perspectives on disputable issues. Making harsh judgments feels elevating. But Paul warns that such criticism is wholly inappropriate. We lack the divine omniscience to discern motives and passing sentence shows arrogance in light of our own weakness. Since proclaiming Christ as Lord means we renounce the right to play god over others, we should refrain from condemning over debatable matters. Our human judgments are often self-righteous and hypocritical. With imperfect information and bias, we cannot determine what brings true honor to God in others’ lives. We’d do better to offer empathy, patience, and grace. Let’s reverently focus on walking in personal holiness and acting in love toward those around us. We should nurture a tender enough conscience to pursue godliness, but with enough humility to allow others freedom on disputable issues. Our unity rests in yielding to Christ as supreme judge (Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 2:1-4; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5).

Food for Thought: What “judgments” do I need to refrain from toward fellow believers? How can remembering my own reckoning before Christ cultivate mercy for others? In summary, today’s passage provides an essential perspective for harmony within the diverse body of Christ. On disputable issues, we must focus on walking in love rather than demanding uniformity. While contending for essential doctrines, we must also allow for unity in diversity on a host of secondary issues where sincere believers can disagree. This requires earnest humility, patience, grace, and maturity from each of us. But it protects the witness of the church and brings glory to God as we prioritize mutual love over personal preferences. May we take these principles to heart for the sake of Christ. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would help me to embrace the diversity within the body of Christ, especially when others have different convictions than me on issues Scripture does not clearly address one way or another. Show me where I have been judgmental, impatient, or lacking in grace with my fellow believers over secondary issues. Forgive me for majoring on minors. Fill my heart with love that seeks unity and is willing to sacrifice personal freedoms if needed to reduce unnecessary stumbling blocks. Continually guide me through Your Word and by Your Spirit so both my convictions and my conduct honor You. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Romans 14:10 – “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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