Romans 14:13-23

Someone said something like this: Your brother/sister in Christ is so precious To God, that if they were to go on sale in the universe, you would have to put the cross of Calvary on the price tag!

Warren Wiersbe has written to the effect that our love may be more tested by Christians who disagree with us than with enemies of God who persecute us. He points out that it takes a diamond to cut a diamond. Our object must not be to get everyone to agree with us, but to pursue peace. Christians can be way too strident in declaiming their views on secondary issues. Some preach them as if they were cardinal things. Have we forgotten that Romans 14:22a is in the Bible? Or perhaps we have not noticed! Let’s not major on minors!!

We saw yesterday how Christians are free to disagree over secondary/tertiary issues. There are disputable matters where there is room for believers to differ and continue to love each other and still be genuine Christians. F.B. Meyer puts this well. He writes about that great border-land which lies between the dark and light, the clearly wrong and clearly right. We are all conscious of habits and tastes, of inclinations towards certain forms of amusement and recreation, of methods of life, which do not contravene any distinct law of God, but are certainly open to question. Great verses through the Bible, p.418

Where the Bible doesn’t clearly speak on a particular issue, there will be Christians who feel free to do that thing and others who in all conscience can’t. (Paul sees the person with the most scruples as the weaker brother: see 15:1. Jewish Christians, raised under the law of Moses, had a hard time adjusting to their new life of freedom in Christ. That is something of the background here.) Paul’s message is in essence, ‘Feel free to follow what your Lord is guiding you to do via your conscience. Jesus is your Master. He’s the One who will Judge you. No-one should set themselves up as the judge of another. It’s not the job description assigned to anyone in the church.’ Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. The Message.

But then in the second half of this fourteenth chapter he goes on to say, ‘You may well feel free to do something another Christian doesn’t feel able to do. By all means do it if your conscience Okays it. But DON’T DO IT  if thereby you are going to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way…Do not…destroy your brother for whom Christ died…Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of….(13, 15b, 19). He says not to do anything to cause your brother to fall (21). As important as our freedom in Christ is, there is a higher principle that should not be sacrificed, i.e. love of others in the church. Here, then, is an ultra-important point to grasp: there are things that some Christians engage in that are not sinful in themselves, but if other Christians regard these practices as sinful, yet do them, they are sinning (14b, 23). So you don’t want to let your freedom push them in that direction. Don’t be a bad example even by doing what you see as a good thing.

The thing is that these are secondary issues and should not become matters of friction and destruction. There are far more important issues at stake (17: Remember what kingdom life is all about!), including the pursuit of congregational peace and building up of the body of Christ (19). God wants for there to always be righteousness, peace and joy filling His church.