Lesson 48


The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

14:1 But receive him who is weak in faith, not for judging thoughts. 14:2 One man has faith to eat all things, but he who is weak eats herbs. 14:3 Donít let him who eats despise him who doesnít eat. Donít let him who doesnít eat judge him who eats, for God has received him. 14:4 Who are you who judge the servant of another? To his own lord he stands or falls. Yes, he will be made to stand, for God has power to make him stand. 14:5 One man esteems one day above another. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind. 14:6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks. He who doesnít eat, to the Lord he doesnít eat, and gives God thanks. 14:7 For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself. 14:8 For if we live, we live to the Lord. Or if we die, we die to the Lord. If therefore we live or die, we are the Lordís. 14:9 For to this end Christ died, rose, and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.


Today's Lesson 

In this section of the Epistle to the Romans Paul deals with the relationship between two groups of Christians. He distinguishes these two groups by labeling one group the weak and the other the strong. Paul advises each of these two groups, indeed he advises all of us, against judging one another. By Paul's understanding, all Christians are members of the body of Christ. Christ is the head of all and the judge of all. We have no need to judge another. Either the person is in Christ, in which case Christ Himself has already judged, or the person is outside of Christ, in which case the person is lost and without hope.

 

But Christians are, for one reason or another, constantly judging each other. It is the bane of most churches that factions and groups develop that cooperate with one another only indirectly. Good leadership in a local congregation can marginalize differences, but people will tend to gather in groups that reinforce their own opinions. Differences develop and, if left unchecked, what began as minor variations can lead to obstacles to fellowship.

 

Paul is preaching against just such an attitude here. In chapter 16 Paul recognizes some groups of Christians in Rome as meeting in separate houses. Perhaps he had known that the Christians of Rome did not meet frequently together because of differences that had developed. He warns them in that chapter about divisions and obstacles to fellowship.

 

Paul gives two examples of divisions that may well have been obstacles in the churches that met in homes in Rome. The first is that some of them had dietary restrictions. One eats all things and another eats "herbs" (likely they were vegetarians). The second division is that some groups might value one day more than another might. This may have been a group that still followed certain Jewish holy days or perhaps, as some have suggested, a group that had begun holding the first day of the week as a special day.

 

Paul reminds each of these groups that if they are servants of Christ, then they must follow the lead of Christ in these matters as well. Each man should be "fully assured in his own mind." We must allow Christ to exercise His authority over His body. Christ is able to correct and rebuke. We do not need to be the one that keeps others in line. It is the job of the Spirit of God to lead believers to all truth, not mine. We must have confidence that God is alive and working in the church. If we have confidence that God is working, we will have no need to judge other Christians in these matters.

 

Each of us has a role to play in the body of Christ. There is no need for another that thinks and acts exactly like you or me. We are each unique individuals and Christ is wonderfully equipped to bring us together and make us one. Let us encourage one another to live to the fullest extent of our faith. Let us have confidence that the God who called us is capable of leading others to His truth.

 

Are you willing to allow Christ to be the sole judge of what other Christians should be and should do? Are you willing to set aside your "judges robes" and simply be a child of God?

 

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