Read Romans 14:1-23
What Matters Most
“The Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or
what we drink, but of living a life of goodness,
and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Digging Deeper: So much of what Christians get uptight about, particularly as it relates to how others are living out their faith, really doesn’t matter in the larger scheme of how the Kingdom of God is to be fleshed out. It just doesn’t matter if some believers drink wine or play cards or put a dollar down on the lottery, or go to movies or dance socially, or you name it. It doesn’t matter if some Christians run around, jump up and down and wave flags when they worship, or go to church on Friday night rather than Sunday morning, or give their offerings online rather than in the plate, or whatever, whatever…
That’s what Paul is really teaching here in Romans 14. Certain of the Roman Christians in Paul’s day were getting uptight with other believers, because they weren’t living out their faith the way these Roman church members were. In that day, the issue had to do with certain foods that some believers felt was inappropriate to eat. The big deal about meat was that before it had been purchased, it had likely been sacrificed to an idol prior to its arrival at the market. That was a concern to the non-meat eating believers, because they believed that to now eat that meat was to give tacit worship to idols.
Another issue had to do with what day they believed was the correct day to gather for worship. Some thought that Saturday, the Sabbath, was the correct day, while others preferred Sunday worship service. And as people chose sides over these issues, hard feelings and disharmony was the result in the church.
So Paul says, “look gang, what foods you eat or don’t eat and what day you choose to worship just doesn’t matter in the bigger picture of what the Kingdom of God is all about. You are free to do what you want so long as your bottom line motivation in life is to bring honor to the Lord.” Notice these words,
“For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it is to honor the Lord. And if we die, it is to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
That is a great rule of life to live by. If your motive is to bring honor to the Lord, then nothing else really matters. Do what you want, eat what you want, drink what you want, worship when you want and in the way you want—as long as your sole purpose is to glorify the Lord. That’s why Paul went on to remind these believers, “the Kingdom of God is not a matter of meat or drink, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Now Paul gives a couple of caveats to this principle. One, if you cause a weaker brother or sister to stumble by deliberately doing certain things that offend their conscience, then you’ve missed the point. You are not glorifying God. You are unnecessarily creating disharmony, and harmony in the family of God is a big deal, a very big deal, to the Lord. And two, if you take advantage of this liberty in Christ to do something that your own conscience tells you not to do, then you have crossed over into sin. So be careful in the exercise of your Christian freedom.
Here is what really matters in our Christian faith: Just do everything to honor God, and you will be okay.
As St. Augustine said, “Just love God, and then do what you want.”
“To many, total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.”
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.