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  • Writer's pictureLaura Neal

August 13th, 2023: Judgment and Mercy- Romans 14:10-23

I once heard a story from a marriage counselor who said that she listened to a wife make charge after charge about her husband. He was lazy, he was unkind, he didn’t lead his family…etc. After a while, the counselor spoke up and said that even if every accusation was true about her husband, she had never seen a case where a man crawled out from under his wife’s criticism to become a better man. The wife was shocked, but the counselor continued, “You have the power to only change yourself, and God says that the way a Christian wife lives has the power to influence her husband.” The choice she had was to be right or to be happy, and her actions would decide the results.

In the same way, Christians are called to live a life that is pleasing to God, but we are unable to criticize others into doing the same. The power we have is to live as an example and to show the kindness of Jesus that will draw those without Him to turn toward Him.

The children of God, those born again by faith in Jesus Christ, are no longer under the law but are living in the full grace and mercy of God. The law is good because it came from God, and it is useful because it makes abundantly clear that all of mankind has fallen short of the perfection that God requires. No one who, with an honest heart, studies the words of the law that God gave can find any fault in them. Furthermore, they will be forced to admit that no one has the power to obey them perfectly, therefore we are all without hope outside of the grace of God.

Seeing that we are helpless without God and recognizing that we deserve the punishment of Hell but can escape it through the blood of Jesus, it is surprising the abundance of time Christians spend judging the sins of those around them and condemning others who also have access to forgiveness through Christ. Let us be clear, discernment is required of a Christian by God, that is, the ability to judge righteousness and unrighteous acts correctly. We are to "study to show ourselves approved," and be "workmen that need not be ashamed.” But as we walk in the Spirit, it is imperative that we extend grace and show Christ to those who are in desperate need of a Savior. It is the Spirit of God that shows us how to speak the gracious words of Christ into the lives of our neighbors, “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.”

10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Christ is the Light of God, and He has appointed us to be the light of the world by using our lives to bring glory to God the Father. We are not the judge, we are not the authority, He has all power, all glory, and it is His kingdom to rule. You and I don’t have the ability or the authority to judge the motivation of another Christian. In the end, we will all prostrate before the Lord, who is able to see the heart.

12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.

What authority has the Christian been given in this world? We are able to take our own lives and apply the word of God to our actions to see where we have sinned and come short. We then have the privilege of going to God and asking His forgiveness, which He generously gives time and time again. I am also to keep myself under the Holy Spirit’s control so that I don’t cause someone else to fall. If I can help them learn from my mistakes, if I can help them to see the truth of God, If I can pray for them or lend a hand when I see them struggle, it is my duty to do so. I think sometimes, the holiest act we commit is to keep our mouths shut when we would unintentionally replace the judgment of God with our own.

14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

Whom the son sets free is free indeed. As mentioned above, we are no longer under the constraints of the law because Christ alone fulfilled the law in our place. There are denominations and Christians who place restrictions on themselves that aren’t found in God’s word. I wouldn’t argue with them about what they choose for themselves. However, if they place any price over the blood of Christ for others to pay to receive salvation, they are in error. If you try to please everyone who claims to know how to please God with outward behavior, you will be unsuccessful and in fact, completely miserable. God is pleased with His Son alone. We are free, but we are free to do those things that build the kingdom of God not destroy it. If someone around us struggles with those things that we feel free to do, it would be better to be considerate of them and to treat them with respect. Our rights are not as important as our mission, which is to edify our brothers and sisters in Christ and to live the gospel in front of the world.

If you try to please everyone who claims to know how to please God with outward behavior, you will be unsuccessful and in fact, completely miserable.

17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

Righteousness is simply the act of making choices that are right. Peace is the confidence that Christ Jesus is Lord and we can rest fully in Him. Joy, unspeakable and full of glory, comes from knowing that we are accepted and have been given eternal life in Heaven. This world and the world to come, the universe, and all that is in it, belongs to our Father who loves us. We should care less about those things which can be devoured and focus on the One to whom we should be devoted.

At that time, the early church was torn on the issue of eating meat that was considered unclean under the direction of the law. It seems silly to us to argue over how your meat is processed, but in those days, there was a much greater issue behind the conflict. The heart of the matter was whether the blood of Christ was enough to save or whether new believers needed to also keep the rules of others to inherit their place in Heaven. Verse 17 makes clear the priorities of the New Testament Church. Christ is sufficient, and our service to Him is paramount.

19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense.

So, let’s make sure that we don’t eat with offense. To put it another way, if you do something or decide not to do something because you are making a sacrifice to God, then that is a commitment you are making between you and God alone. While you are saved by faith in Christ alone, through the Grace of God alone, you can decide for yourself how you should best live for Christ. However, if your choice about how to live causes you to think that you are a “better” Christian than most, or if you gloat in the fact that you can do something that someone else finds offensive, then you are eating with offense. Your heart should be to help someone make it, your desire should be to encourage and strengthen fellow believers, not to destroy them with your criticism or with a lack of sensitivity.

If you do something or decide not to do something because you are making a sacrifice to God, then that is a commitment you are making between you and God alone.

21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

To sum it up, think eternally and not temporally. Your flesh is always striving to be in control, but the Spirit of God living in us shows us how to live with an entirely different purpose. If the word of God calls something sin, then we trust that God has our best interest at heart. A Christian should always stand for principles that are right, but should never assume the role of judgment over others who see things differently on issues that the Bible doesn’t address directly. We have a better quality of life, and happiness when we are confident that we are safe in Christ, without being tormented by doubt when a human being tries to take away that confidence. We are to do all that we do in faith and try to see the eternal picture in all that we do, desiring to help those who are following Christ along with us and to live in a way that compels the lost to “taste and see” that the Lord is good.

Thank you for studying with us! God bless!



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