Accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.
How can Christians get along when they disagree about issues the Scripture does not address specifically? That is the topic we will look at this week from Romans 14. Romans 14 is about how to deal with the gray areas of the Christian life.
The theme of Romans is the righteousness of God. A right standing with God is available to anyone who trusts in Christ. Romans 1-3 deals with the problem of righteousness. The problem of righteousness is that none of us has it on our own. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. Then Paul talked about the provision of righteousness in Romans 3-5. Even though we do not have any righteousness, God has plenty of it, and He offers it to us through Christ Jesus. God’s righteousness is available to anyone who asks for it. We all need God’s forgiveness, but we have to be willing to ask for it. Romans 6-8 is about the power of righteousness. Once we are in a right standing with God, we have the Holy Spirit to give us victory over sin. Romans 9-11 is about the program of righteousness. A right standing with God is available to Jews and Gentiles. Finally, Romans 12-16 is about the practice of righteousness. How should being in a right relationship with God affect our lives every day?
It is interesting to me that Paul devoted the most verses in this section to the subject of the doubtful areas of the Christian life. In Romans 12-16, he spent only two verses on the subject of developing a Christian mind-set. When he discussed spiritual gifts, he used six verses. When he talked about how to live in light of Christ’s return, he used seven verses. When he talked about how to respond to government, he used 13 verses. But when he talked about the gray issues of the Christian life, Paul used 35 verses. Why is this such a central issue? Very simply, it is because the local church is the representation of Jesus Christ on earth.
The world cannot see Jesus right now, because Jesus isn’t here on earth. But He has left His body here, and that body is called the Church. What the world thinks of us is what they think about Jesus Christ. If they see Christians who are fighting and criticizing one another, do you think that attracts them to Jesus? No, it repulses them. That is why it is so important that Christians learn to love one another, even those with whom we disagree. This is the greatest testimony of the authenticity and reality of Jesus Christ. And this is why Paul spent so much time on this subject.
Ray Stedman once said that “the favorite indoor sport of Christians” is “trying to change each other.” Paul said in this section: Don’t do that. The theme of Romans 14:1-13 is this: Respect the convictions of those with whom you disagree.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Drinking, Dancing, And Doubtful Things” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Ray Stedman, “On Trying To Change Others,” https://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/romans/on-trying-to-change-others.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.