December 11 (Daily reading: Romans 14-16) “Let us not judge one another” (14:13). Judging contrasts with another principle: “Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God” (15:7). Paul had been talking about stronger and weaker brothers. The “stronger” felt free to eat any food and felt contempt for the “weaker” who believed he should not eat certain food. The weaker in turn judged his brother for eating the questionable food. Paul reasoned that they were both wrong. Neither should judge or feel contempt for the other, because “God has accepted him” (14:3). Paul said to the stronger brother: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” (14:1, NIV).
The question of disputable matters is central in Paul’s teaching on the dangers of judging. These are issues that 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” (14:6-8).
Much divisiveness among Christians could be eliminated if people would not judge others on things that many times have no spiritual significance. We take note of Paul’s questions: “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” (14:10). (Adapted from my book, “We Love Because God First Loved Us,” page 132).
– Al Gary