Chapter 14

Practical Exhortations

Consider the Weaker Brother in Faith: (Romans 14:1-12)
Paul addresses the subject of harmony among the believers in this chapter.  Believers have different level of  spiritual maturity yet united in Christ for mutual acceptance (Romans 14:1).  Paul addresses two issues in this chapter. There was disagreement about proper diet and observance of days (Romans 14:5).  In both instances, Paul warns about judging others.  Perhaps some of these believers were clinging on to their old practices. Converts from gentile backgrounds were sensitive about eating meat offered to idols. Paul’s argument is that since idols are dead, there is nothing wrong in partaking of the meat offered to idols. Those who eat this meat should not be despised or condemned by those who do not eat because God has accepted them both in Christ Jesus. Who are we to pass judgment on the servants of God?  God is the judge and we are not. The Christians are not under obligation to follow the dietary laws of the Old Testament. The New Testament does not teach that one day is holier than another day.   Paul exhorts that we should work through these matters with mutual love and respect.  We are called to serve one another and live for the glory of God. We must not force others to follow our preferences not clearly commanded in the Bible. Whether we live or die we belong to Christ. No believer is an island unto himself. The risen Christ is the Lord of all. Therefore Christians are exhorted to live in harmony with one another.  Paul addresses the Christians who are weak in the faith. Why do you judge another believer? For we all will stand before the judgment seat of God (14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10).  Everyone of us shall give account of our life individually.  So Paul calls for mutual acceptance and support in the church. In all our interactions with other believers, we must show the grace God has shown to us in Christ. Unsaved will be judged at the great white throne judgment seat (Revelation 20:11-15).There is a difference between personal conviction and biblical command.

Do not Stumble a Weaker Believer (Romans 14: 13-23)  
Paul gives some practical advice to Christians here. “Let us not therefore judge one another anymore. We must be careful not to hinder the spiritual growth of others.  In all that we do, we need to live in love (14:15). We should live with conviction and obey the Word of God. If someone believes a thing clean, his conscience will not condemn him for eating it. Don't let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. If a brother is grieved or offended by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By exercising your freedom you may cause your brother to stumble.  Christians should  not enforce personal preferences on others.  We should be mindful of weaker believers in the faith. The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking  but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Mutual encouragement is the goal in the church and it will find favor in the sight of God (Romans 14:18). Only those who are at peace with God can become peacemakers. Also we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. These spiritual experiences are the result of our perfect union with Christ. The Christians are exhorted to do everything to build up the common bond of faith.  The basis of Christian fellowship is not eating and observing days but our common salvation in Christ Jesus (Jude 1:3). Convictions are fine but it should not be at the expense of salvation. The Christian convictions based on the Word of God should be kept between us and God. Blessed are those who do not exercise their liberty by which others are offended and stumbled. Christians must not force their convictions on others. If our actions are not motivated from faith, they are sinful and unacceptable in God's sight (Romans 14:23).  We sacrifice our own preferences for the sake of others because that is precisely what Jesus has done for us.

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