Romans 14

Romans 14 contains some strong words from Paul about how we are to treat and live with one another.  We don’t live on an island.  We are part of God’s body and how we live does impact others.  He begins by asking this piercing question: “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another”?  We do tend to have a desire to judge each other.  Why is that?  Because we can often justify our own behavior as we compare ourselves with someone else.  It is easier to judge than to clean up our own act.  There is always someone we can compare with and appear to be in a better spot.  But the reality is that we are not judged based on how we measure up with others in our patch.  God measures us in relationship with His standards – and we are going to fall short.  So again Paul says: “Why do you pass judgment on your brother”?  But then comes the clincher: “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God”.  Being better than someone we judge doesn’t matter at all in God’s eyes.  What matters is how we are doing in relationship to God’s expectations of each of us. 

Those expectations begin with the truth that “every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God”.  Have you put God where He belongs in your life?  This is pretty clear.  Every person will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord some day.  It won’t be optional, it won’t be a few, it will be all and all of us will put Christ where He belongs.  Along with that “each of us will give an account of himself to God”.  No free passes – no get off the hook cards – we all will have to stand before God and answer for how we lived.  Life matters – we will give an account.  The time to work on that is now – not later. Are you ready to face the God of the universe and explain why you lived as you did?  Have you lived well?

Paul goes on to remind us that we don’t live in isolation.  This is a reality we all need to take a very close look at.  “None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself”.  We are part of God’s world, and as Christ Followers, part of His Body – the church.  We don’t get to ignore how our life impacts those in our patch.  In fact – it matters much.  We will have to explain why we did things that caused another to stumble.  We will have to stand before God and try to tell Him why we ignored the impact of our life on those around us.  How we live matters particularly in the Body.  Check out Paul’s words: “decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother….if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died”.  Paul uses food as the stumbling block here – but it can be a variety of things. Movies we watch, places we go, people with hang out with – there are lots of things that can cause another to stumble.  We need to realize we have a responsibility to each other.  Our role is to build up the body – to lead others to Jesus – not to cause them to fall by the way we choose to live our own life.

We can argue that it is not our responsibility to make another walk in obedience.  It is true that every individual chooses to sin with their own free will.  But our actions can contribute toward leading another from obedience and that is not ok with God.  “It is wrong for anyone to make another stumble…..or do anything that causes your brother to stumble“.  God takes how we live in community very seriously.  It does matter.  We must not just live how we want without regard to the impact it will have.  We also have to realize how broad our impact can be.  God doesn’t address these statements to those in our family or our church.  It is broad – we are not to make anyone stumble – whether we even know they are watching or not.  And often it is those we don’t realize are paying attention where the damage is done.  Those closer to us may understand our motives – but those who only see what we do may not know the whole context.  Bottom line is – we are very responsible for how we live.  Choose wisely!

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