If ever there was a passage that is difficult to write on, it is this one. The passage we are looking at today is both unbelievably practical and also unbelievably convicting! Before we even get going, I want to encourage us to remember that the gospel has given us the power to live the lives that the Bible calls us to. It is because of Christ that we can live out God’s design for our life! In light of that, read Romans 14 through the lens of how you can better love your brothers and sisters in Christ. This passage is also very similar to 1 Corinthians 8, which might be helpful to read along with this one. Here are a few things that stood out to me:
- We should be patient in dealing with the spiritual struggles of others. (v.1-4) Our main goal should be to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a temptation to be frustrated with the growth, or lack thereof, in the lives of people in our Connect Group, Bible study, or people we disciple. But we must remember that God is the one who grows us in sanctification. We are not responsible to grow them, we are responsible to love.
- There is a certain degree of freedom in our convictions. (v. 5-9) Paul gives some freedom here in our convictions. Of course, all convictions must not defiantly go against Scripture, but the reality is that there are smart people who love Jesus and the Bible and yet disagree on certain matters. The point here is that the purpose of all convictions must be Christ. If the glory of Christ is not what is driving our convictions, then we are missing the point.
- Not judging does not mean not calling out sin, but calling out sin in light of your own. (v. 10-12) When it says “do not judge”, it doesn’t mean “never call out sin.” Matthew 18:15-17 speaks clearly on this. Rather, when we confront the sin of others, we should first check our own hearts, realize how corrupted we are in our own sin, and approach our brother or sister in love to confront their sin in hopes they might be convicted and repent from it. Matthew 7:5 (ESV) says, “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Jesus shows us clearly that when we confront the sins of others, the proper way to do that is to first confront the sin of ourselves.
- We should be willing to sacrifice our preferences, out of love, for the growth of other Christians. (v. 13-23) Do you value the growth of others over your personal preferences? That is what Paul is teaching us here. Would you be willing to give up something you enjoy in order that others might not be tempted to sin?
The common thread of all of this is that we are to love people in sacrificial ways. How have you been loving people recently? What needs to change for you to love people like Christ?
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice