February 8th, 2007
The essence of the Christian message is so much about freedom that it’s annoying to discover that so many people feel the need to impose rules and restrictions. Paul tells us that it is more important to honour someone else’s rules than it is to insist on the truth and win arguments. Some people just don’t feel comfortable with the idea of unlimited freedom. It is more important to care about the other person than it is to fight for your rights. So you need to submit yourself voluntarily to restrictions and limitations when you are around a person who regards them as important, rather than insisting on your own freedom.
Paul’s Letter to the Romans — Chapter 14
14:1 Accept a person who is weak in faith, but not so you can argue over opinions. 14:2 Some people believe it is all right to eat anything, but others who are weak eat only vegetables. 14:3 Do not let the people who eat despise those who do not eat. Do not let the people who do not eat judge those who eat, because God has accepted them. 14:4 Who are you who judge someone else’s servants? They stand or fall before their own master, and they will stand, because God has the power to make them stand.
14:5 One person considers one day to be more important than others. Another considers every day to be alike. Let all people be convinced in their own minds. 14:6 Someone who observes a special day, observes it to honour the Lord. Someone who eats, eats to honour the Lord, giving God thanks. Someone who does not eat, does so to honour the Lord, and gives God thanks. 14:7 None of us live for ourselves, and none die for ourselves. 14:8 If we live, we live to honour the Lord. If we die, we die to honour the Lord. Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 14:9 The reason Christ died, rose, and lived again, was so he could be Lord of both the dead and the living.
14:10 Why do you condemn your brother? Or why do you despise your brother? We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 14:11 It is written, “‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘to me every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess to God.'” 14:12 So all of us will give account of ourselves to God. 14:13 Let us not condemn each other any more, but instead resolve that no one will put a stumbling block or obstacle in another’s way. 14:14 I know, and am convinced in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean by itself. But for someone who considers something to be unclean, it is unclean for that person. 14:15 If your brother or sister is upset because of your food, you are no longer living in love. Do not allow your food to destroy someone for whom Christ died. 14:16 Do not let your good be criticised, 14:17 because the Kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 14:18 Whoever serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by people. 14:19 Let us pursue things which bring peace, and things which we can use to encourage each other. 14:20 Do not undo God’s work because of food. All things are clean, but it is evil when someone creates a stumbling block by eating. 14:21 It is good to not eat meat, drink wine, or do anything as a result of which your brother or sister stumbles, is offended, or is made weak.
14:22 Keep the things that you believe as your own conviction before God. Blessed are the people who do not condemn themselves by what they approve. 14:23 But people who doubt are condemned if they eat, because it does not come from faith, and whatever does not come from faith is sin.