Read Romans 14:1-12
You’re Not God!
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable
matters … If there are corrections to be made or manners to be
learned, God can handle that without your help.
~Romans 14:1 & 4 (NIV & Message)
Digging Deeper: Guess what? You’re not God! God is, so leave being Judge of the Universe up to him.
And yet we don’t. We twist that wonderful truth, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” to a version more congruent with our god-complex: “God loves you and I have a wonderful plan for your life.” That would be pretty funny if it weren’t so true.
Our problem is that we love to take people whom God has redeemed and re-create them into our image—that is, our image of what we think a Christian ought to look like. That was going on clear back in Paul’s day, too. That’s why he takes an entire chapter here in Romans to deal with this problem.
Apparently for the Roman Christians, the issue they were getting hung up on was “diets and days”. Some of the Christians were saying that “real” believers ought to eat only a vegetarian diet while others thought it just fine to take full advantage of the buffet table—especially the protein. (Romans 14:2-3) Then there were some who felt that a “true” believer was obligated to observe certain high holy days while others thought there was no such thing as a holy day—one day was no more holy than the next. (Romans 14:5-6) So when people didn’t align their behavior to those practices particular to their brand of Christianity, judgment was passed and fissures formed in the body of Christ.
Fast forward to today, where we would like to think we’re different. But I suspect we do a fair amount of that kind of thing, too. We don’t tend to quibble over vegetarian diets and high holy days, but we do tend to judge music styles (contemporary or traditional), proper church attire (casual or formal), preaching methods (verse-by-verse or thematic), approaches to evangelism (seeker friendly or confrontational), or a whole menu of what Paul calls “disputable matters”. And just like the Romans, when we assign greater spirituality to one of those disputable matters at the expense of another, we take on a role meant for God alone.
So here is Paul’s recommendation—and mine, too: Relax! Just take a chill pill, because most of the things that drive you to being judgmental are just not worth the time and energy you spend getting worked up about. Let God worry about the way someone dresses, or the kind of music they like, or the way they preach, or how they approach reaching the lost in their community, or whatever else bugs you about them. As Paul says, “If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.” (Romans 14:4, MSG)
You see, only Jesus has the right to judge his followers. They are his, after all, not yours. He earned the role of the one and only Master and Commander by living a sinless life, dying as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and rising as the conqueror of death, hell and the grave. And since he is our Lord and Savior, and we will stand before him someday, let’s leave the judging up to him.
It will work out a lot better that way—and we’ll enjoy life a lot more when we take the weight of being judge, jury and executioner off our shoulders.
“Never fight evil as if it were something that
arose totally outside of yourself.”
This Week’s Assignment:
Read: Romans 14:1-23
Memorize: Romans 14:19
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads
to peace and to mutual edification.”
For Your Consideration: What is it that really bugs you about other Christians? Make a list, and then ask yourself, “Should these things really matter to me?” (Hint: The answer will be “no” in about 99.9% of the things you list, and the other .01% are in doubt.) The real point of this exercise is to see where you may have fallen into a judgmental spirit toward other believers. By the way, if you think this is no big deal and you would just as soon skip this little assignment, just remember, God takes this thing very seriously. That’s why he has one entire chapter in Romans devoted to it.