One of the things I have learned from being in different online communities is just how much people judge others. I hear all the time how much other people’s denominations are wrong. How they are cults, liars and deceivers, and that they teach people wrong. It amazes me that people spend so much time condemning others they actually forget to examine their own selves. One group even goes so far as to say that theirs is the only perfect religion. If they spent as much time sharing the love of Christ as they do judging others, how many more people do you think would be saved?
When someone was condemning me the other day because I go to Church on Sunday, rather than Saturday, I came across something in Romans 14 that really caught my eye. I went back and read all of Romans 14 and was truly amazed at what I saw. Paul was such an amazing apostle. Even back then he was trying to tell people to stop looking for the differences between each other and look at what is really important. Start loving each other and stop judging each other. So what exactly is Romans 14 about? Let’s take a look at it.
Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. Romans 14:1
Paul is saying here that there are different levels of faith. The ones who have a stronger faith should not pass judgment on those of weaker faith, but accept them as they are. Understand that with love those with the weaker faith will grow. Paul also uses the word OPINIONS. The Greek word used here is Dialogismos. It means the thinking of a man deliberating with himself, or a deliberating, questioning about what is true.
When a person gives their opinion they are actually saying they may not be totally sure of what the truth is, but this is what they believe it to be. This doesn’t mean they are wrong in their thinking, what it means is this is the way they understand it at this moment in time. The more a person reads and studies the word of God, the more they learn the true meaning. As they grow in love, their way of thinking will change and their faith level will increase. Each individual person will grow at their own rate, depending on how much they read and study God’s word.
Paul, understanding the faith level differences says, don’t judge a person because their faith level is different than yours, but accept all people for who they are in Christ.
One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 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. Romans 14:2-3
What an awesome thought. Even though a person believes he is only to eat vegetables doesn’t mean he is wrong, just as a person who believes it is ok to eat anything is not wrong. Both are correct according to their level of faith. Again, Paul stresses, do not judge which is right or wrong, but accept them as they are. And why? Because God accepts them both and if a person is good enough for God that same person should be good enough for you – just as they are.
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. Romans 14:4
Exactly. Who are you to judge? Those who judge the actions of others will, in fact, bring judgment upon themselves.
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2
You are allowed to discern right from wrong, but you are not to judge. What a person eats or does not eat is not right or wrong, but if you say they are wrong for doing (or not doing) it, then you are judging. If you judge a person incorrectly because they have a different faith level than yours then you will be judged accordingly.
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 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. Romans 14:5-6
Whether you worship and honor God on Saturday, Sunday, or every day, whether you keep the Old Testament feasts and special days, or not, a person must feel they are correct in what they do. If a person does not feel correct in the way they worship the Lord or when they worship the Lord, then they are not where they should be. Are you celebrating these days or not celebrating these days for God or are there other reasons? If you are doing it because that is the way your church or synagogue does it, but you do not do it to give thanks to God, then you are not doing it for the right reasons. You must do or not do everything for God or it would be like chaff blowing in the wind.
For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 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. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Romans 14:7-9
If you are a Christian, then you live and die, not for yourself, but for the Lord. In everything you do, it should be done for the Lord.
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. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God”. So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:10-12
So why do you judge your brother? Why do you talk about them as if they are not right with God? They are your brother and they will be accountable to God for their actions, just as you are accountable to God for your actions. If the ways a person worships and honors the Lord are acceptable to God, why shouldn’t they be acceptable to you? Or are you above even God that you can judge another wrong by the fact that they do not worship and honor the Lord the same way you do?
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this – not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. Romans 14:13
Stop judging each other and stop putting up obstacles and stumbling blocks. Stumbling blocks are when we say people are wrong by the way they honor God and it causes them and others to be confused. As we know confusion does not come from God – God is a God of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33). So stop telling people they are wrong, when in fact they are not. They only honor the Lord differently than you do, because their level of faith is different than yours.
I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Romans 14:14
The unclean here is not referring to things which are considered sin according to the scripture, but to other things such as the food we eat. In fact, in 1 Timothy 4 we are warned that there will come a day when people will forbid marrying and also ordering them to stop eating certain foods. But you are not to reject anything, because everything which God created is good. Realize the truth and receive these things with thanksgiving and know that they are ok to eat because they have been consecrated with prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5)
For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Romans 14:15
This is important to understand. If you destroy someone’s belief in the Lord because of the difference in faith, then you are sinning. To cause confusion among the youngest children is not from God. How can you love someone and tell them they are wrong, when they are not? They have only not grown in maturity yet. That is why we, as individuals, really need to listen to the Spirit in us. The Spirit will guide us in what is right.
Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. Romans 14:16-18
If you believe how you honor God is good then do not let anyone speak to you as if it were evil. If you are convinced in Spirit that what you are doing is good, then stick with it and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Always remember that the kingdom of God is peace, joy and righteousness. If you serve the Lord remembering who He is to you and who you are to Him then you are acceptable to God. Notice it says you are also approved by men. Do you understand why? Because you will have something that most people don’t – A love for all people that is contagious. People will accept you because you do not condemn them, but love them as they are.
So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. Above all things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. Romans 14:19-21
Pursue those things which make peace and let those things which cause dissension and division among the brethren alone. Do not consider yourself more highly than another, thinking you have more faith than he does, but respect the fact that there are different levels of faith. Love each person the same, knowing they are acceptable to God. But if you cause another to have issue then don’t do it. This doesn’t go just for food, but in everything you do. If you do something that causes someone else to be hurt then you are in sin and must repent. Remember what Love is?
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:3-7
It won’t matter what you eat or drink or dance or sing or if you worship God 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year for centuries, if you don’t do it with love. If you truly love the way the Lord wants you to love you will not cause hurt to another for your own sake. If you go to a person’s house and they are offended by you eating meat, don’t eat meat. If a person goes to church on Sunday or Synagogue on Saturday does it truly matter when you look at the whole picture? Absolutely not, because if you love the way the Lord wants you to, you will put those differences in worship aside and accept each other the way they are, just as the Lord accepts you just the way you are.
The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. Romans 14:22-23
Do not insist others to have the same faith as you. But let your faith be known to God that you love him the way you do. Do not doubt the faith you have because of what others say they believe is correct, but stand firm in your faith because you know the truth. If you are doing things because everyone else is doing it, then it is not from faith, but from doctrine and peer pressure and that is a sin, because you are not only lying to yourself, but you are lying to God.
Paul understood the differences in levels of faith and the differences in what people are taught and how they learn. Paul understood that each person must grow at his or her own pace and be responsible for their own learning. He tried to teach, even then, that you must put aside your differences and look to what is most important. Not what day or days your worship the Lord, but that whenever you worship the Lord you do it because you love Him, not what food you eat or don’t eat, but that you give thanks for everything that you have to eat because the Lord put it there for you, not that you consider yourself better than others but that you see others as brothers in Christ, not that you consider your needs before others, but that you put others before yourself.
Paul understood love. Why is it that it is so hard for us to understand this love? Pride. We never stop to consider that maybe it’s us that needs to grow. We always consider ours to be the right one and that everyone should follow along with us, not knowing that we may, in fact, be sinning and causing others to be hurt. We need to put aside our differences and love each other. The kingdom of God is not about dissension, but about peace. How can you have peace if you are causing arguments and divisions because you consider yours to be the right way?
Think about this. Consider the verse which says “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God”. Maybe the differences you see are only on the outside because they show their faith to God and not man, in order to not cause division. The notes I have in my study book says “The strong Christian is not required to go against his convictions or change his standards. Yet he is not to flaunt his Christian freedom but keep it a private matter.”
If you have a strong faith in the Lord you will be able to keep things between you and God in order to not cause division or dissension. You will be able to do things so as to not hurt others, while standing firm in your faith.
I suggest we each pray over why we do the things we do and make sure we are doing them for God. I also suggest we start listening to what the Lord is saying to us and not what others are saying. Pray and praise the Lord and hold fast to what you believe. Always remember to love and especially remember without love, you are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2).