April 25 (Reading for April 24-May 1: Romans 14. Since we will not have a lesson on Romans 14 on Sunday, May 1, we have two weeks to look at this chapter. I am posting the first part of a devotional at the beginning of this week and will conclude it next week).
This devotional is adapted from my book, “We Love Because God First Loved Us,” pages 132-134. The statement, “Let us not judge one another” (Rom. 14:13), concluded Paul’s discussion about stronger and weaker brothers. Paul gave an example of a stronger brother who felt free to eat any food. He stated his conviction: “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself” (Rom. 14:14). The weaker brother would be one who felt like eating certain foods was sinful. The weak could judge the strong for eating the food, and the strong could look down on the weak for being legalistic, but Paul reasoned that they would both be wrong. He said that neither should judge the other one, because “God has accepted him” (Rom. 14:3). Paul said to the stronger brother: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” (Rom. 14:1, NIV).
The question of disputable matters is at the heart of Paul’s teaching on the dangers of judging. These are issues that can be disruptive when some insist on observing them, even though there is no biblical evidence to support that observance. Paul’s example was the eating of certain foods. Such issues are questions of opinion or conscience. It is wrong to judge one another over these questionable practices; God has accepted us as we are, so we should accept one another. Paul went on to say that if one should eat the food, or not eat the food, he “does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God…For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:6-8). Much divisiveness among Christians could be forever banished if people would understand Paul’s teaching, and not judge others on things that many times have absolutely no spiritual significance.
Paul asked the Romans, and by extension, he asked us: “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God…So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:10, 12).
“Therefore let’s not judge one another anymore” (Rom. 14:13a). To be continued…
– Al Gary