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Bible Gem 265 - The Petty Differences that Divide us (Rom 14:1-8)

March 31, 2019

 

Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don't argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. 

For instance, one person believes it's all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 

Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don't. And those who don't eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 

Who are you to condemn someone else's servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let Him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord's help, they will do what is right and will receive His approval. 

In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. 

Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honour Him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honour the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. 

For we don't live for ourselves or die for ourselves. 

If we live, it's to honour the Lord. And if we die, it's to honour the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.  (Rom 14:1-8)

 

 

Isn’t it amazing how little petty differences can divide us in the body of Christ? There is a world of difference between us and the world outside of the children of faith. It is understandable that we have a gulf between us when compared with those in the world. The differences are of the magnitude of light and dark, good and evil, Christ and the devil. You can see the point I am sure. These are issues and differences of immense proportions and over issues that are the essence of life or death. Yes indeed – life and death issues. Eternal life and eternal death. 

 

But when it comes to the issues that divide us as Christians, as fellow believers, the issues seem so petty. Isn’t that the way of it? We get so passionate about things. Yes people get worked up about politics and religion because we feel passionately about the issues. It is like that in the body of Christ. So why is Paul spending so much time on the issues of these trivial matters such as food and drink and special days? Why would he spend a full chapter on the matter? And why here? Where does it fit in? Did you pick it up?

 

Paul has been talking about the body and about not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.  Have an honest estimation of yourself in the context of ministering the gifts. Use the gifts to build up the body. Live in peace with everyone. Submit to authority, fulfil your debt of loving your neighbour, live chaste lives. These are all practical pieces of advice for the believer. Now he is saying don’t let the little stuff throw you and make you bent out of shape. (Ian’s terms; not Paul’s) This is all part of preserving peace with everyone and building up the body while having a sane estimation of yourself. 

 

It is interesting to note that Paul has brought up this topic regularly throughout his letters - 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, Galatians 4:10-11, Colossians 2:16-17. It is a FAQ it seems. If not asked then certainly experienced. It is a big issue. But why is it a big issue? The reason is Paul has seen this issue create problems for the Corinthians, Galatians and Colossians. It was not a problem yet for the Romans but Paul was making sure it wouldn’t become a problem. Paul has seen it ruin other churches and wants to warn those in Rome not to let it become a problem for them. Furthermore it is issue related to the oneness and unity of the body, something that Paul is very keen and passionate about. Hence he brings up the matter in numbers of churches.

 

 

God doesn’t judge a man until he is dead, why should you?

 

Never make a judgement about somebody until you have heard their side of the story. Steve Penny  

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