Posts Tagged ‘Romans’

Pleasing Your Neighbour

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

Romans 15:1-2

How much effort do we put into fulfilling verse 2 of this passage?  “Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.”  How much effort do we really put into “pleasing our neighbour?”

We might occasionally do something that we view as a sacrifice to help our neighbour.  But how often do we cosistently put their needs and wants before our needs and wants?  We might occasionally please our neighbour, but often, when we do, we find ourselves filled with pride.

The Bible is very clear about how we should treat others.  It is clear that we should put the needs and wants of others above our own.  It is clear that we should be more concerned with pleasing our neighbour than pleasing ourselves.  And, when the Bible is very clear about something, we usually tend to mess it up.

We all want to please ourselves.  We all want to do things that help to improve our situation or help to improve our comfort or enjoyment of life.  Can you imagine how great it would be if we would put all of the effort into pleasing and helping others as we put into pleasing and helping ourselves?  I dare say that our lives (and the live of those that we help and influence) would be radically changed.  How good are we at being a servant?  How good are we at putting others above ourselves?  I would say that we probably all have some work to do in this area!

Strong Helping the Weak

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 

Romans 15:1-2

Too often in the world in which we live, we find people stepping on other people to “get to the top.”  We find the people who are “strong” ridiculing the people who are “weak.”  We find a gross lack of compassion.  It should not be this way in our churches.  It should not be this way in the lives of Christians.

The Bible tells us here that “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.”  As always, we tend to get things backward.  Usually, it is the strong who try to impose their wills and their opinions on the weak.  It is the weak who must submit to the strong.  But that is the opposite of what the Bible would tell us.

If we are “strong” Christians, we should be strong enough to ignore our own wants, desires and opinions and submit our wants, desires and opinions to others.  The stronger we are, the more we should be focusing on others.

A good test of our level of Christianity would be our approach toward others.  Do we want to force everyone to be just like us and to submit to our will?  That would be the sign of a weak Christian.  Or do we defer to others?  Do we put the wants and needs of others ahead of our own will?  That would be the sign of a strong Christian.  This is one of the paradoxes of the Christian life.  The stronger we are, the more submissive we are.  The stronger we are, the more forgving we are.  And the stronger we are, the less we think about ourselves and our own personal wants.  How strong are we today?  How are we treating others?

We Usually Get It Backward

Let us not therefore judge on another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.  I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably.  Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 

Romans 14:13-15

When you read this whole chapter dealing with judging others and questionable things and really look at the spirit of it, it quickly becomes evident that we often get the whole thing completely backward.

What we usually do when it comes to judging others on questionable things is this: We have our opinion.  Everyone who has a lower opinion or standard is a liberal/compromising Christian who is barely even a Christian at all.  Everyone who has a higher opinion or standard is a crazy/hypocritical Pharisee who wants to go back to the Old Testament law.  We have our opinion and we either refuse to tolerate or even ridicule everyone else’s opinion.  We make the whole question all about ourselves and our opinions.

What we should do is this: We have our opinion.  We notice that others have a different opinion.  We defer to them, so as not to place a stumbling block in front of them.  We ignore our opinion and think about the opinions of others.  We ignore our opinions and we defer to the opinions of others because we want only to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.  And when we are following after that goal, we realize that our opinions don’t really even matter.

When it comes to matter of opinion/preference, which approach are we taking?

The Kingdom of God

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably.  Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.  Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.  For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

Romans 14:15-18

This whole passage is dealing with us and with our dealings with others.  We are told not to put a stumbling block in front of other Christians.  We are to not use our liberty to cause another Christian to stumble or fall.  It is about putting our opinions and desires on the back burner and putting the opinions and desires of others first.

Verse 17 tells us that “…the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  Paul used here the illustration of meat.  There was nothing wrong with eating meat, and Paul knew and understood that.  But it offended the conscience of some new Christians.  So Paul decided that he would not eat meat so as not to offend them or cause them to stumble.

Paul understood that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  So often, we get too focused on earthly things.  So often, we focus on things that really don’t even matter.  We squabble about insignificant things and ignore the bigger things like “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Are we ignoring righteousness, peace and joy because we want to argue with another brother or sister about some thing that the Bible doesn’t even address?  Do we value our own opinions above righteousness, peace and joy?  Are we more focused on earthly things or on the Kingdom of God?

 

What Should We Do? Pt. 4

It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.  Hast thou faith?  have it to thyself before God.  Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that things which he alloweth.  And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Romans 14:21-23

We have seen several criteria in this chapter of Romans to help us make wise decisions regarding questionable things in life – things that the Bible does not specifically address.  The last thing that we will look at is found in the last verse of the chapter: “…he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”  Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.  When it comes to Scriptural criteria for making decisions, this is a big one.

Whatever it is that we are doing or not doing, we need to have faith that we are doing right.

This might be the simplest of all of the criteria to follow.  If we are thinking about a questionable thing and trying to make a wise decision, we need to ask ourselves one simple question: “do I have any doubts about this whatsoever?”  If we have any doubts, chances are very good that we should just avoid whatever it is.  As always, we usually do things in the wrong order.  When we have doubts about something, we usually just go ahead and do it, ignoring the fact that, deep down, it bothers our conscience.

Usually, if we will listen to our conscience and the Holy Spirit, it will settle most of the questions in our lives.  It is when we try to ignore those things that we get in trouble and make unwise decisions.  How are we doing?

 

What Should We Do? Pt. 3

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.  For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.  Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.  For meat destroy not the work of God.  All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

Romans 14:17-21

In looking at this passage in an effort to gain some wisdom in the area of settling questionable things in our lives, we come to verses 20 and 21.  They take us right back to where we have been before.  God knows that we are flesh and blood humans.  He knows that, often, we need to have things repeated (sometimes over and over again).  This passage is no different.

Verse 19 tells us to do things “which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”  Verse 21 gives us the negative of that thought: we should not do “any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.”

We have seen several criteria for Scriptural decision making, and we can add these to it.  Does it cause a brother in Christ to stumble?  Is it going to offend a brother?  And is it going to weaken the faith of a brother?

If it is going to do any of those things, a strong Christian should just avoid whatever it may be.

When most people think about an issue, we usually think about opinions in this order: 1. Ourselves  2. Other people and 3. God.  We should think about opinions in this order: 1. God.  2. Other people and 3. Ourselves.  As usual, we get things backward.  Biblical decision making is really pretty simple, when we have the right heart toward it!

 

What Should We Do? Pt. 2

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably.  Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.  Let not then your good be evil spoken of:  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.  For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.  Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Romans 14:15-19

As Christians, we often have to make decision about things that the Bible does not specifically address.  There are some gray areas of life and we need wisdom and direction to navigate through those gray areas.  This passage will help us to do just that.  We looked yesterday at the fact that we should do things that are “acceptable to God, and approved of men.”  Today, we see two more things that we can look at to help us make decision about questionable things.

Verse 19 tells us that we should follow after “things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”  “Edify” simply means to help or to build up.  Those are two excellent questions we can ask ourselves when making decisions about anything.

1. Does the thing in question “make for peace?”  Is what we are doing going to help bring peace or is it going to get people mad or annoyed?  Christians should be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).

2. Does the thing in question help to “edify another?”  Is what we are doing going to help other Christians?  Is it going to help bring someone to the Lord?  Is it going to strengthen someone else’s faith?  Our job is to help and encourage others; not weaken them, cause them to stumble, and shake their faith.

If we will use these criteria, along with “acceptable to God, and approved of men,” we will be well on our way to settling many of the questionable things that arise in our lives!

What Should We Do? Pt. 1

For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.  Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.  For meat destroy not the work of God.  All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.  It is good neither to eat flesh, nor drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. 

Romans 14:18-21

Sometimes we need to make a decision about something that might be questionable.  It might be something simple or it might simply be something that is not specifically addressed in the Bible.  Whatever the reason, there are many things in this passage that can help us to make those decisions.  We will look at a couple of them in the next day or two.

The first thing we can see is this: we need to do the things that are “acceptable to God, and approved of men.”  Those two criteria will help us to solve many of life’s problems and make good and Scriptural decisions.

There are some things that may be approved of men but are not acceptable to God.  The further away the world gets from God, the more and more things will be acceptable to men.  But God has been specific about what He accepts.  He does not change.  We need to do all things that are acceptable to Him.

On the other hand, there may be some things that aren’t technically sins, but might cause another person to stumble.  For example, I could go to a bar, sit at the bar all day and sip water.  There is nothing sinful about drinking water.  But seeing me in that situation might cause someone to stumble or fall.  That would not be “approved of men.”

“Acceptable to God, and approved of men” – just using those two criteria will be a tremendous help to us in our Christian lives!

Stumbling Blocks

Let us not therefore judge on another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.  I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably.  Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 

Romans 14:13-15

The Bible tells us in these verses to not “put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall” in our brother’s way.  It would be a terrible thing to be the cause of another Christian falling.

This is something that, as Christians, we need to watch.  We need to be careful not to do things that are going to cause others to stumble.  Verse 15 tells us to “Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.”  Paul uses the illustration of eating meat.  He has no problem eating meat, but he isn’t going to do it if it is going to cause problems in someone else’s mind.  Even if something is not sinful, we still don’t want to do that thing if it is going to cause someone else to stumble.

We have enough trouble standing and walking with the Lord as it is.  We find ourselves constantly attacked by the world and the Devil.  We also have enough trouble with our own flesh tripping us up, that we don’t need to be tripping each other up.  We can’t control what everyone else is doing, but we can control what we are doing.  We need to do all that we can to avoid tripping up our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are going to encounter plenty of stumbling blocks in our lives – let’s make sure we don’t put them in front of each other!

Giving Account

But why dost thou judge thy brother?  or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?  for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.  So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Romans 14:10-12

To me, one of the scariest or most intimidating verses in the Bible is Romans 14:12.  “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”  Every one of us is going to stand before God Himself and give account of ourselves.  No matter if we are rich or poor; no matter if we are old or young; no matter if we are good or bad – we are all going to stand before the Lord and give account of ourselves.

To me, that is an intimidating verse.  I have done many stupid things in my life.  I have done many sinful things in my life.  I have wasted a ridiculous amount of time in my life.  I have wasted or missed many opportunities in my life.  And I will have to, one day, stand before my maker and answer for it all.

There will be no excuses on that day.  There will be no do overs on that day.  There will be no talking our way out of things or blaming other people for the mistakes that we have made.  It will only be us, standing there and answering for our lives.

What have we done with the lives that God has given us?  Have we been using it for Him and His glory or have we been wasting it on ourselves and our own fleshly desires?  Whatever the answer to that question, we need to remember this future meeting.  We need to be ready to give account of our lives, because that is exactly what we will do someday.