Wednesday, February 9, 2011

So why do you condemn another believer?

Rom. 14:10-23 NLT  
   10 So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For the Scriptures say,  “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD,  ‘every knee will bend to me,  and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.’” 
   12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. 13 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. 
   14  I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. 16 Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. 17 For 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. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. 
   20 Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. 22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

After laying down the essential foundation for Christian living, Paul hits us with the ultimate question. Paul reminded us that Christ died rose again in order to bring us all into alignment with the will of God and with His nature as well. Then he asks  why we condemn other believers or look down on others who are alive to God and dead unto sin? Is it because we doubt they are believers? Is that our call? If they claim to be believers then should we show love to them as we would to  believers? Even if we disagree with their politics or philosophy, so long as they do not oppose Christ, should we not love and bless them?

The point in this passage is one of the foundational principles of the very Kingdom of God-- that this kingdom is a matter of "living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." The Kingdom of God is populated by people who have become empowered by God to serve Christ by showing to others the very attitude of Christ-- unconditional love. Thus, among Christians there is to be harmony. Even when there is strong disagreement over policy and procedure, there is to be harmony. When one perceives that harmony is being injured it is the responsibility of that very one to reach out again and promote unity whether he/she is responsible for the disuniting influence or not. When we aim for harmony they we will always be building up others. Religious policies and church traditions must never become issues that tear apart the body of Christ or cause weaker believers to stumble. We must always remember this kingdom is not about me but about HE and His love of others.

We can begin this day asking God to help us in living according to His will and for His Kingdom purposes.

Your servant in Christ's Kingdom

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