Do You Show Respect to Others?
Romans14:1-12 Nov. 13 2011
The apostle having, in the former chapter, directed our conduct one towards another in civil things, and prescribed the sacred laws of justice, peaceableness, and order, to be observed by us as members of the commonwealth, comes in this and part of the following chapter in like manner to direct our demeanour one towards another in sacred things, which pertain more immediately to conscience and religion, and which we observe as members of the church. Particularly, he gives rules how to manage our different apprehensions about indifferent things, in the management of which, it seems, there was something amiss among the Roman Christians, to whom he wrote, which he here labours to redress. But the rules are general, and of standing use in the church, for the preservation of that Christian love which he had so earnestly pressed in the foregoing chapter as the fulfilling of the law. It is certain that nothing is more threatening, nor more often fatal, to Christian societies, than the contentions and divisions of their members. By these wounds the life and soul of religion expire. Now in this chapter we are furnished with the sovereign balm of Gilead; the blessed apostle prescribes like a wise physician. “Why then is not the hurt of the daughter of my people recovered,” but because his directions are not followed? This chapter, rightly understood, made use of, and lived up to, would set things to rights, and heal us all.
The Jewish converts cautioned against judging, and Gentile believers against despising one the other. (Romans 14:1-12)
1. Strong and weak (Romans 14:1-6)
Romans 14:1 I now pass to another subject. Receive as a friend a man whose faith is weak, but not for the purpose of deciding mere matters of opinion. 2 One man’s faith allows him to eat anything, while a man of weaker faith eats nothing but vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats certain food look down upon him who abstains from it, nor him who abstains from it find fault with him who eats it; for God has received both of them. 4 Who are you that you should find fault with the servant of another? Whether he stands or falls is a matter which concerns his own master. But stand he will; for the Master can give him power to stand. 5 One man esteems one day more highly than another; another esteems all days alike. Let every one be thoroughly convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards the day as sacred, so regards it for the Master’s sake; and he who eats certain food eats it for the Master’s sake, for he gives thanks to God; and he who refrains from eating it refrains for the Master’s sake, and he also gives thanks to God.
Differences of opinion prevailed even among the immediate followers of Christ and their disciples. Nor did St. Paul attempt to end them. Compelled assent to any doctrine, or conformity to outward observances without being convinced, would be hypocritical and of no avail. Attempts for producing absolute oneness of mind among Christians would be useless. Let not Christian fellowship be disturbed with strifes of words. It will be good for us to ask ourselves, when tempted to disdain and blame our brethren; Has not God owned them? and if he has, dare I disown them? Let not the Christian who uses his liberty, despise his weak brother as ignorant and superstitious. Let not the scrupulous believer find fault with his brother, for God accepted him, without regarding the distinctions of meats. We usurp the place of God, when we take upon us thus to judge the thoughts and intentions of others, which are out of our view. The case as to the observance of days was much the same. Those who knew that all these things were done away by Christ’s coming, took no notice of the festivals of the Jews. But it is not enough that our consciences consent to what we do; it is necessary that it be certified from the word of God. Take heed of acting against a doubting conscience. We are all apt to make our own views the standard of truth, to deem things certain which to others appear doubtful. Thus Christians often despise or condemn each other, about doubtful matters of no moment. A thankful regard to God, the Author and Giver of all our mercies, sanctifies and sweetens them.
2. Christ as Lord/accountability (Romans 14:7-12)
Romans 14:7 For not one of us lives to himself, and not one dies to himself. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord: if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.9 For this was the purpose of Christ’s dying and coming to life—namely that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living. 10 But you, why do you find fault with your brother? Or you, why do you look down upon your brother? We shall all stand before God to be judged; 11 for it is written, “‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘to Me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall make confession to God.’” 12 So we see that every one of us will give account of himself to God.
Though some are weak, and others are strong, yet all must agree not to live to themselves. No one who has given up his name to Christ, is allowedly a self-seeker; that is against true Christianity. The business of our lives is not to please ourselves, but to please God. That is true Christianity, which makes Christ all in all. Though Christians are of different strength, capacities, and practices in lesser things, yet they are all the Lord’s; all are looking and serving, and approving themselves to Christ. He is Lord of those that are living, to rule them; of those that are dead, to revive them, and raise them up. Christians should not judge or despise one another, because both the one and the other must shortly give an account. A believing regard to the judgment of the great day, would silence rash judgings. Let every man search his own heart and life; he that is strict in judging and humbling himself, will not be apt to judge and despise his brother. We must take heed of saying or doing things which may cause others to stumble or to fall. The one signifies a lesser, the other a greater degree of offence; that which may be an occasion of grief or of guilt to our brother.
Paul now returns to focus his thoughts on the practice of faith-based righteousness in relationships within the Christian community. Believers are to accept one another without condemnation for personal convictions . We have no right to judge others on such issues, for they are matters of conscience, to be settled between the individual and the Lord. Believers must then “stop passing judgment on one another’’.