Romans 14:1-12

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 16, 2015 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? 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 acknowledge God.’
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” (Romans 14:1-12)

This is one of those passages where the context is especially important. We need to remember that Paul is writing this letter to a specific church (in Rome) at a specific time (the middle of the first century A.D.). While much of this letter can easily be applied to us in our context today, here Paul is directing his writing to an issue in that particular church.

The community of the church in Rome was divided between the strong and the weak in faith. This is likely referring to the Gentiles as the strong ones and the Jews as the weak ones. The Jewish Christians grew up and had lived their entire lives with the rules, regulations, and rituals of their faith, so naturally they were having a hard time giving them up. Think about something you’ve done or believed for your whole life, and then imagine you suddenly need to change that; could you do it? How difficult would that be?

The Gentile Christians, unlike the Jews, were more dominant in the Roman church because they didn’t have those previous beliefs that they needed to let go of first, before they could truly follow Christ. This issue caused a lot of unrest and a lack of unity in the Roman church. The community became divided between the strong and the weak. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Jews had a lack of faith, but the term “weak” refers to what their faith would allow them to do. The Gentiles had no restrictions, because that’s how their life was before Christ. The Jews, however, restricted themselves because of their prior religious beliefs, so they were less able to live the Christian life until they got past those things.

The groups may have differences on particular practices, such as eating meat or not, but they are all called to be one body. They are all one family in Christ.

Anytime there is a significant difference between two groups like this, the groups will always be judging and condemning one another. We all think our way is the best way, right? People were no different back then.

Paul is commanding them here to stop judging one another! In verse 10 he says, “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” We may think that judging one another is fairly harmless, but really it isn’t, because God will judge us for that, and God’s judgment is far from harmless!

God is sovereign, and He is the ultimate judge. We need to respect and honor Him as such by being unified with our brothers and sisters in Christ, even if we do have minor differences.

Take a look at your life this week. How are you doing at being unified with one another? Or are you stuck in the differences between you and other Christians? Pray for God’s guidance toward unity, so that you will not deserve His judgment.

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