July 4/Romans 14

Today is July 4th on which we Americans celebrate our Independence from Great Britain. Chapter 14 is about Christian Liberty. Some Christians had the liberty to eat meat sacrificed to idols and some of them didn’t because it violated their consciences. Somehow they believed the by eating you were in a sense bowing to an idol. Some Christians thought Saturday was the day to worship God and other thought because Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday that Sunday was the day to worship.
So if we stop right here there really isn’t a problem. The problems in the church arose when  people started condemning each other for what they were doing. Each side believed the other was wrong. Some had liberty in certain areas and some didn’t. those that had the liberty to eat meat made fun of those who didn’t and told them to grow up. Those who didn’t eat meat said those who did were living in sin. The same went for the day set aside to worship God.
So here we have blaming, condemning and fighting going on. The church had lost sight of its mission which was to fish for people. Isn’t that what Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”  So basically Paul was saying in this chapter, “When you fight you don’t fish. You are not bringing glory to God. You are not living in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The issues they were fighting over were non essentials, they really didn’t matter in eternity. But by fighting they were giving Jesus a bad name.

This kind of thing has gone on for centuries even Jesus and John the Baptist faced criticism.Luke 7:33–34 (NLT) — 33 For John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’

When I grew up as a kid I couldn’t play cards, go to school dances, watch movies, and listen to rock music. I was also taught that people who smoked and drank beer were on their way to hell along with the card players! None of these things were spelled out as wrong in the bible and abstaining from these activities kept me from fishing because all of my unsaved friends were out doing these things! Of course one has to use discretion in all things but I think you see what I mean. To my friends Christianity was just rules and regulations. They didn’t want to darken the doorway of a church. Relationship didn’t enter the picture.

Verse 8 > We are supposed to live in a way that honors God. Condemning people for getting involved in nonessentials certainly doesn’t honor God.
Verse 13 > Paul urges the people to grow up in their Christianity and let God do the judging. If we concentrate on building our relationship with Jesus we will be sensitive to the behavior of others. If they can’t do what we do because it violates their conscience then we who are more mature will abstain from doing the things that offend them while we are with them. I don’t want to cause someone to violate their conscience because of me.
Verse 19 > Lets build each other up instead of tearing each other down. Lets make Christianity attractive to non Christians by getting along and living in unity and harmony. This doesn’t mean we excuse sin; remember we are talking about non-essentials things that don’t matter in eternity. An example of essentials would be lying, gossip, irritability, fornication, keeping a record of wrongs, being rude etc.
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity,” wrote the psalmist (Psalm 133:1). What does this mean? Augustine summed it up best when he said, “In essentials, there must be unity. In nonessentials, there must be liberty. But in all things, there must be love.”
May God give us wisdom to walk in both liberty and love.
Be Inspired Hilltop!


  1. Mark Gundersen says

    The admonissions again leading someone astray can be related to someone who has a legalistic faith but also someone who has broken an addiction and does not want to fall back into it. When interacting with them you have to be concious about what they need to avoid. On the reverse side someone who has a legalistic background should not be condemning people for things that do not break God’s laws. Back in Matthew Jesus let us know that it would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around our neck than to lead a brother astray. So live in love and do not sweat the little stuff as Pastor San would say.