Romans 14

The Weak and the Strong

Romans 14 encourages us to consider everything we do as if we are doing it for the Lord. It is a call to do what leads to peace and mutual edification within the body of Christ. We are not to condemn or look down on those who are weaker in faith, but be fully convinced of what is acceptable in our own minds, for everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Accept Those Weak in Faith without Passing Judgment—Romans 14:1

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Romans 14

"Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters" (Romans 14:1)

Everyone comes from a different walk of life and is at a different level of maturity in Christ. Because of this we should welcome everyone into our fellowship while encouraging and uplifting them as we have a mutual bond in Christ Jesus. We must be patient, loving and not easy to criticize opinions or pass judgments on them for their lack of understanding. Neither should we confuse our brothers and sisters with doctrines and discussions that are beyond their current understanding. Instead we should encourage, teach and love them without condemning them.

There is a season to understanding the Word of God and walking in faith. We all start out as babes, but through the help of the Holy Spirit, the Lord reveals the truth of His word to us. Jesus spoke about this in the parable of the growing seed.  "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain-first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come" ( Mark 4:26-29 ). The same is true in the Kingdom; there is a timeframe to everything. Maturity in faith can be compared to seedtime and harvest when understanding the process of growing into full understanding in Christ.

Jesus said that the seed is the word of God ( Mark 4:14 ). When the word is planted in the good soil of our hearts then it begins to germinate and grow. The seed is activated as soon as it is planted. However there is a time period between the seed being planted and the crop being harvested. Jesus identified that the stalk was the first evidence that the seed was growing, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. When the grain has ripened then it is time for the harvest. The same is true for us. We plant the word into our hearts and wait. We might not fully understand passages or concepts but we know that it will grow because the word is a seed. Through the course of time we see evidence that these truths have taken hold and are producing in our lives. We see bits and pieces until we have full revelation of His Word and see the harvest come. When this happens Jesus promised us that we will see an incredible harvest, "Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop-thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown" ( Mark 4:20 ). When we plant the word we can expect an abundant harvest in our lives, because this is how the kingdom works.

In the same way, when we accept those who are weak in faith we are to encourage and instruct them in the word without judging or criticizing them. For we know that those truths will begin to take hold and grow until understanding and maturity comes. I Peter says, "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation" ( I Peter 2:2 ). The word of God is the food for spiritual growth, we must feast on it in order to grow and mature. Paul also talked about this in his letter to Timothy, "from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" ( II Timothy 3:15-17 ). Do you want to be equipped for life? Then plant the word in the good soil of your heart and watch it grow. This is an amazing truth from God's word that will forever change your life and the lives of those around you.

Do Not Judge what God Has Accepted—Romans 14:2-4

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Romans 14

"One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand" (Romans 14:2-4)

Every believer has their own convictions in life. Some have found complete freedom in Christ while others continue to wrestle with certain things. Paul gives instruction to both types of believers to accept and encourage each other without passing judgment.

The example he used was the difference between Jewish believers and Gentile believers. The Gentiles had no convictions about eating certain meats but the Jewish Christian would only eat vegetables for fear of breaking an Old Testament dietary law. Paul said that the Gentile Christians should not look down on the Jewish Christians because their faith had limited their diet.  In the same way the Jews should not condemn the Gentiles for eating those meats and exercising their freedom in Christ. 

Paul is revealing the danger for those who have a revelation of God's grace; it is easy to become insensitive to and impatient with brethren who haven't yet come to that knowledge. We must learn to balance our freedom in Christ around those brothers and sisters so we can encourage and love them without destroying them in the process. In the same way, believers that haven't yet renewed their mind to this freedom can become judgmental and condemning of other brothers. They also need to consider that God has accepted their brethren and shown them the freedom to which they were called. Each person should consider one another and how to mutually edify and encourage in the Lord instead of condemning and destroying.

As such we were called to be servants, not judges. We have a responsibility to judge ourselves alone and let the Lord judge others. We should make sure that we put no stumbling blocks in anyone's way. We should be fully convinced in our own minds what is right and good to do and act upon that. If we do this, then we are proceeding in faith and the Lord responses to faith. Paul said later on in this chapter, "everything that does not come from faith is sin" ( Romans 14:23 ). Therefore we should let the Lord reveal these truths to us and act on them alone without condemning our brothers and sisters who haven't yet come into this revelation. For the Lord is mighty to support and uphold us, He is patient as we walk further and further into the knowledge of His word.

May God bless you with a revelation of the freedom that was purchased for you in Christ Jesus and may you walk in this, fully convinced in your heart, amen!

Live or Die, We Belong to the Lord—Romans 14:5-8

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Romans 14

"One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord" (Romans 14:5-8)

As believers we have incredible freedom in Christ Jesus. The longer we walk with Him the more liberty we will experience because He patiently shows and encourages us how to tear down barriers that stand in the way. This is why we should not get hung up on minor things. Many Christians like to argue and discuss the small stuff instead of walking in the truth they already know. Instead we should be fully convinced in our own minds what is right and decided that whatever we do we are doing it for the Lord. The difference is the condition of the heart.

Paul said in Colossians, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" ( Colossians 3:17 ). What a difference this perspective can make. It doesn't matter what you do if your motive is wrong. You can serve as a missionary on foreign soil and give all your money to feed the poor, but if your heart is not true then what good is it? The Lord looks on the heart and sees the intention behind the actions. In the same way, insignificant things in the eyes of the world with pure motives please the Lord because it shows a changed heart, warm and responsive to His kingdom.

What a marvelous concept! We do not have to worry about what we eat and drink or which day is holy or special. We simply decide that whatever we do we do as worship before the Lord and let others do the same. We do not belong to ourselves, we belong to God. "So whether we live or die we belong to the Lord". Understanding this will free us to continue walking in truth. Paul said, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" ( Romans 14:17 ). These are the things we should pursue and obtain. The more we do not get hung up on trivial matters the more we will understand those things and see them in operation.

I am so thankful that God looks on the heart instead of outward appearances. He reassures us of this in his word, "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." ( I Samuel 16:7 ). It has been this way since the beginning. Today, I pray that you decide in your heart not to get wrapped up in outward appearances or in what you do or don't do, but condition your heart to be soft and pliable before the Lord. Proverbs says, "As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man" ( Proverbs 27:19 ). Jesus put it this way, "For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks" ( Luke 6:45 ). If we work on our heart and get it pure and our motives right then our actions will reflect the condition of our hearts.  May this truth bless and free you, knowing that everything you do you can do for the Lord and His glory, amen!

Christ is Lord of Both the Living and the Dead—Romans 14:9

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Romans 14

"For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living (Romans 14:9)

Christ's resurrection is the pinnacle of history. It was monumental because it proved once for all that Jesus had complete victory on the cross. Paul records at the end of Romans 4, "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification" ( Romans 4:25 ). Since he is alive and seated in heaven we can rest assured that we are justified on his behalf before God. His sacrifice for sin restored us to a state where it is just as if we had never sinned in the first place. His death and resurrection completely outdid and undone everything sin ruined.

"For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living" ( Romans 14:9 ). We live for Christ and we die for Christ, and everything in between belongs to him. We are not our own anymore ( Romans 14:8 ). We have been called into a wonderful fellowship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This is why Christ came to earth as a ransom for many, to purchase our freedom so that He could be Lord of both the living and dead. The beautiful thing about this, is when we were dead, Christ made us alive. Colossians says, "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" ( Colossians 2:13-15 ). Now we are alive to live for him in the freedom and victory that was won so long ago.

We know that we will eventually experience physical death, but since Jesus is both Lord of the living and the dead, we know that He is able to make us alive again to live eternally with Him in paradise. What an awesome truth to understand. We live for the Lord, we die in the Lord and throughout our entire lives we belong to Him.  Today, I pray that you understand this amazing truth and start living it out in your daily walk. Remember that everything you do can be done as worship to the Lord. He is our life and our hope. May you be blessed abundantly with all wisdom and understanding, amen.

Everyone Will Give an Account to God—Romans 14:10-12

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Romans 14

"You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: " 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.' "So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God (Romans 14:10-12)

Understanding that we are only responsible for ourselves takes the burden off trying to make everyone else into a model Christian. When we understand that we can share, encourage, teach and equip others for this life but ultimately the responsibility for what they do with it falls squarely on their shoulders, this gives us the liberty to simply love and care for them. We do not need to take the burden of their behavior and decision upon ourselves. We will all give an account to God in the end, so instead of wasting time worrying about our brothers we should see to ourselves to make sure our motives are right, our hearts pure and we are walking in the plan the Lord has for us.

We are not to judge our fellow brothers over trivial matters such as eating and drinking. Nor should we look down or be impatient with them when they do not understand these truths. The Lord will reveal in due time this freedom to which they were called. Instead we need to be concerned with our own hearts and actions because we will give an account to God for them. Understanding this puts judging others in perspective. Instead we can make up our minds not to put stumbling blocks in their way. We should allow their paths to remain clear so they will not falter in their walk with the Lord on our account.

Knowing that we will stand before the Lord and confess his Lordship should excite you as a believer. Everything in heaven, earth and under the earth will eventually confess that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords ( Philippians 2:9-11 ). If we confess this now while we live on this earth, then there is no fear in that day, because perfect love casts out fear. I John says, "In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" ( I John 4:17-18 ). Association with Jesus is what gives us eternal life and a hope for heaven. Believing in Him is the deciding factor of whether we live or die. The good news is we can live for him now, confess and rejoice in what he did for us while looking forward to that day when we will stand before him and confess this Lordship to his face.

Understanding this provides perspective on our responsibility. We are not to judge or confuse our brothers and sisters by the freedom we enjoy rather we should understand that everyone will give an account to the Lord. So it is in our best interest to walk in our convictions with pureness of heart because the Lord has accepted them. In the same way, he has accepted fellow believers and their convictions. We are to make every effort to live our lives as to the Lord no matter how small or trivial the task. Because this shows a heart change and this is glorifying to Jesus, because of it, He has accepted us.

Today, I pray that you make up your mind to encourage your brothers and sisters instead of tearing them down. Make every effort to live in peace, guarding and protecting your heart and walking in the truth. May you evaluate your own motives today and walk in pureness before the Lord as this is pleasing to him.

Put No Stumbling Block in Your Brother's Way—Romans 14:13-15

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Romans 14

"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died" (Romans 14:13-15)

It is easy to read a passage such as this and think it does not apply to us today. In general we do not see the dietary struggles that the early church experienced because we are not trained with the Old Testament laws and regulations they were trained in. However the underlining principal that Paul is addressing in this passage still applies today.

First we are to judge ourselves to make sure we are not causing others to stumble by our actions.  This should be a mindset not to use our freedom to destroy the faith of our brethrens. Paul was fully convinced that no food was unclean but it was how that food was received that made it unclean for that individual. If they weren't receiving from faith then to them it was unclean. Sometimes these truths take a while to take hold in our lives. Paul told Timothy, "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer" ( I Timothy 1:4-5 ). Everything that God made is good and nothing has to be refused if we receive it with thanksgiving and from faith.

This struggle between the old covenant law and the new and better covenant that we enjoy today extends far past dietary laws of eating and drinking. Early Christians struggled over these things because they did not understand that they were a shadow of the things to come. Colossians 2 speaks directly to this very thing, "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ" ( Colossians 2:16-17 ). Likewise today, some Christians still hold to Old Testament ritual without any idea that the ritual has become reality in Christ. But now that Christ has come, the rituals are meaningless and can become oppressive. This is why it is important to fully understand the differences in the covenants so we can walk in the freedom and liberty that Christ purchased for us, ratifying it with His precious blood.

The bottom line is that we are all in different stages of maturity in Christ. We should encourage one another and we should decide to walk in the freedom that Christ has revealed to us while making up our minds not to cause our brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble in their faith by our actions. How we do this is by loving our neighbor as ourselves. In the previous chapter Paul summarized that our duty was to love and act in love toward one another ( Romans 13:10 ). If we ignore the influence our actions have on others, we are not walking in love. So we must continue toward the freedom into which we have been called while loving and extending grace and patience with our fellow believers.

The Kingdom of God is Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit—Romans 14:16-18

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Romans 14

"Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men" (Romans 14:16-18)

Paul was incredibly practical and gave great instruction. He knew that all of us were accountable to God and every person was at a different level of understanding. Because of this he gave instruction that lead toward mutual edification and building up of the body instead of tearing down by focusing on these divisions. Much of his instruction in Romans 14 is about eating and drinking and what is acceptable, and the underlying principal is just as true today as it was then. The principle of what Paul is saying is that we are to live for God, what we do and don't do should come out of a heart conviction and not because of rules and regulations given by others. What God has revealed to us as acceptable before him, we should be confident in.

Paul also reminded us that we should be patient and loving with others in their walk without causing them confusion and putting stumbling stones in their way ( Romans 14:15 ). But in the same way we should not allow others to condemn us for the freedom that Christ has revealed to us. Perhaps that is accomplished by not giving them opportunity to criticize us. We can do this by abiding in our freedom without flaunting or making a big deal about it.

The bottom line is that the kingdom of God which we have been called into is not about these physical things and mental debates. We should settle in our hearts and walk in the truth we know, but the kingdom is about righteousness, peace and joy. Righteousness is the state which makes a person acceptable to God. Through Jesus we are righteous before God as we have been given His righteousness through faith ( II Corinthians 5:21 ). Next comes peace and joy, this should continually be the state of our heart. We should walk in supernatural peace and joy because these are the fruit of the Spirit that was given to us at salvation ( Galatians 5:22-23 ). Paul said in the next sentence, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit" ( Galatians 5:25 ). These things are the true things that we should consider important and which we should see operating in our lives.

When we understand that the kingdom isn't about the natural but is about the amazing things Jesus did and provided for us we can toss aside all of these minor details, habits and hang-ups that hold us back. Verse 18 says that "anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men" ( Romans 14:18 ). If we live this way in righteousness, peace and joy, then God has accepted and approved our behavior and we will win favor among mankind as well.  Today, I pray that you understand this amazing truth and disregard the non-essentials that hinder you and I pray that you fully pursue God's kingdom today!

Peace and Mutual Edification—Romans 14:19

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Romans 14

"Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification" (Romans 14:19)

As believers we have more in common with our brothers and sisters in Christ than we have with the natural family we were born into. When we accepted Jesus as our savior we were reborn into God's family and now share a wonderful heritage based on His promises. This all stems from faith in Jesus and is a bond that will transcend both time and distance. We will spend all eternity with these people so it makes sense for us to aim and eagerly pursue harmony and mutual edification with each other.

So many times we let minor divisions separate and cause dissension among us instead of realizing that we were called into one body. We should be pursuing peace among each other, encouraging and building up one another instead of tearing each other down by our actions and behaviors. No matter what convictions we hold to we are to always consider our fellow brethren and behave in a way that will build them up instead of causing confusion in their lives. Paul said in the previous verses, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men" ( Romans 14:17-18 ).  There are more important things to consider than satisfying our own needs. We are a part of the kingdom and what we do has eternal significance.

So many people struggle over these kinds of issues such as eating, drinking or traditions and doctrines of the church. But Paul gave a great rule of thumb in I Corinthians, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God- even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved" ( I Corinthians 10:31-33 ). The bottom line is that whatever you do make sure you are doing it for the glory of God and it will be accepted. Our behavior should be above reproach in this world not because our acceptance with God depends on it, but because our behavior will be seen by others and by this thereby glorify our Father in heaven. Paul sought to please others in order that many would be saved. The same principle applies to us today, we should not seek our own interest but the interests of Christ and our actions should build and encourage His body.

What an amazing thing to belong to something so wonderful. We do not belong to ourselves anymore and as such we should live like WHO we are and WHOSE we are. Today I pray that you will have an eternal perspective in life and that your behavior and actions reflect that mindset. May you live your life leading to peace and mutual edification in the body of Christ and your actions lead others into this fellowship by turning them to Jesus who can save them, amen.