Thursday, February 4, 2010

On Romans 14: 1-12

I've been studying my way through Romans for a while now, taking one section of verses each day. (Well, most days.) I read the day's verses, read Warren Wiersbe's The Bible Exposition Commentary on those verses, and write down notes and observations that I find especially meaningful.

Today's verses (Romans 14:1-12) were not new to me. I remember discussing them in Pastor Kevin's Sunday school class at Open Door Bible Church several years ago. We specifically discussed eating at a particular Asian restaurant - I can't remember which one - where the meat had been sacrificed to Buddha before being prepared. Some people wouldn't eat there because of that. Others didn't mind at all because they weren't the ones making the sacrifices: since Buddha isn't real, the sacrifices don't really mean anything.

As I read these verses and the commentary this morning, I was struck by several other examples. Some people believe Christians should abstain from drinking alcohol; others see occasional use as okay, whether it's for social or medicinal purposes. The Bible doesn't say not to drink; in fact, Paul encourages Timothy to drink a little wine for health reasons (1 Tim. 5:23). The Bible does, however, say not to get drunk (Eph. 5:18), and it gives several examples of the problems drunkenness will cause. Some are taken from a person's experience - Noah (Gen. 9:20-27) and Lot (Gen. 19:30-38), just to name two - while others are given as bits of wisdom (Prov. 20:1).

*Please note: I am not trying to give an exhaustive list of references, just a few examples. There are many more than what I've shown. If you would like to do a more intensive study, I would recommend using NET

Another good example of this is choosing to follow or not follow certain traditions. Some people do not celebrate certain holidays or say the Pledge of Allegiance - and I've heard many reasons for why. Others may choose to celebrate a holiday in a non-traditional way such as not using certain decorations.

One big argument that often arises in churches is which translation of the Bible should be read, often with one group with strong leanings toward the King James Version.

The entertainment arena is another hotbed of controversy. Several years ago, it was focused on music. More recently, the focus has shifted to books, movies, and television.

What it all boils down to is this: If what you do or don't do doesn't go against what God tells us in the Bible, it's up to you to decide if it's right for you or not. It's not anyone's place to determine what's right for anyone else. It's also not anyone's place to judge someone for his or her choices. That is best left to Jesus Christ, before whom we will stand at the Judgment Seat.

I don't want to be judged by others because of my choices, but I know I often judge others for theirs. While I can think of several specific examples on both side, I won't list them here lest the judging begin.

At the end of my notes, I wrote down a prayer:
Lord, help me to not be judging. Help me to accept and respect the choices others make, whether they are choices I would make or not. Help me to remember that You are the Lord of my life and theirs, not me.

I like verse 12: "Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God." (NET)

In reading further, I found that 1 Cor. 8:1-13 addresses this same thing, but more specifically eating food that has been sacrificed to idols. The application here is not to do things that might cause other Christians to stumble.

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