How Shall We Decide?

Todays reading is Rom 14

This chapter in scripture is dealing with the freedom we have in making choices about how we live since we are no longer held to the specifications of the Jewish law for our salvation. Since Jesus gave His life to pay the price for our sin, we no longer have to follow the rules about making sacrifices to atone our sin. Just as our culture today is full of opinions and disagreements about what is sin and what is not sin, the people of the church in Rome were struggling with working out their new freedom (from the law) in Christ’s salvation since all the “rules” had just changed. I think it is important to note here that while the “system” of how we get to have relationship with God, changed drastically because of Christ, God didn’t change at all before, during or after the “system” change. He has loved us and longed for relationship with us since the beginning of time, and that will NEVER change!

So what does Paul have to say about these disagreements, or the deeper issue at hand, people judging and criticizing each other? First Paul says, “Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants?” God has accepted both groups of people and He will judge whether they stand or fall. (vs 4) It’s not up to us. He goes on to say in vs7 that, “We don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord.” Paul continues in vs 12 telling us that each of us will give a personal account to God, so let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. God wants us to look at our own hearts and check our motivations for why we are making the choices we are making, not be concerned with other people’s decisions. Furthermore, if we know that a freedom we are taking is causing another person to question their motives or decision then we should be willing to choose differently to help the other person along in their faith.

It seems to me that the crux of what Paul is trying to convey here is in vs 17-19. “ The Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. “

Disagreements will arise. God didn’t lay out every possible sin in every possible situation so we would have a catalogue to refer to. He has shown us His character, written His principles in His word, and given us countless guidelines to test our situations and attitudes against. Our job is to search the scriptures for answers to questions on our own sin, while seeking God’s heart through relationship with Him. It’s not our job to judge, criticize, or shame others for their decisions. If we try to build each other up and aim to live in harmony, the relationships that are created through genuine love and care for others, just might foster relationships where the other person respects your opinion enough to ask you what lead you to the decision you made on an issue.