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Thursday, November 26 2020

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION: The Apostle Paul has a knack for bursting people’s bubbles! Just imagine how the first 12 verses of this chapter would have “encouraged” both “sides” to continue with what they had been engaged in because they had been admonished not to judge or look down on one another; and then in today’s study he issues out instructions for the “mature”; and we come to discover that maturity is characterized by letting go of our liberties for the growth and conscience of fellow believers. Today’s study looks at three actions for the mature as spelt out by the Apostle. If you are mature . . . 

  1. Don’t Cause a Fellow Believer to Stumble (Verse 13)

“13 So stop being critical and condemning of other believers, but instead determine to never deliberately cause a brother or sister to stumble and fall because of your actions.

It is very interesting that the Bible never says, "Do not do something," without suggesting a positive action to take its place. It does not merely say, "do not be critical"; it goes ahead to say, instead of pushing liberty so hard, and insisting on your rights in certain matters, and your freedom to indulge in something; make the determination not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block or a source of temptation in another believer’s way.” In other words, consider what the effect of your attitudes and actions have on others and not just your personal satisfaction.

  1. Don’t Grieve Your Brother (Verse 14-15)

“14 I know and am convinced by personal revelation from the Lord Jesus that there is nothing wrong with eating any food. But to the one who considers it to be unclean, it is unacceptable. 15 If your brother or sister is offended because you insist on eating what you want, it is no longer love that rules your conduct. Why would you wound someone for whom the Messiah gave his life, just so you can eat what you want?”

There is nothing wrong if you have the freedom to partake of something that others are not free to indulge in. And, like the apostle, you may have arrived at that by some direct teaching of Scripture, or even as Paul did in the case of the Lord Jesus himself revealing it to you. But we must leave allowance for others if they regard something as unclean, because for them it is unclean. It is a known fact that people's consciences grow at different rates, therefore, we are to adjust to one another's needs along this line.  Apostle Paul also reminds us that we will not be walking in love if we “force” people to move at our pace. To refuse to indulge a freedom that you have for the sake of someone else, to adjust to their pace, is surely one of the clearest and truest exercises of Christian love. Is this hypocrisy? Discuss

  1. Seek Unity (Verses 16-19)

“16 So don’t give people the opportunity to slander what you know to be good. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of rules about food and drink, but is in the realm of the Holy Spirit, filled with righteousness, peace, and joy. 18 Serving the Anointed One by walking in these kingdom realities pleases God and earns the respect of others. 19 So then, make it your top priority to live a life of peace with harmony in your relationships, eagerly seeking to strengthen and encourage one another.”

To have an understanding of the freedom by which Christ set us free is a good thing. But it will very quickly become something spoken of as evil if we create division by arguing so hard for these rights, or freedom, or by flaunting our liberty in the face of those who do not agree with it, you will be setting an obstacle or trap to make them stumble. You will also be portraying your faith in the wrong light in the sight of an unbeliever when all they see are quarrels and squabbles among believers.

The main point of the Christian faith is not eating or drinking or any other item that pulls us apart. The kingdom of God is not about exercising our liberties; but it is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. They are gifts of God; they do not come from you; they come from Him. And that is what the world must see in us; not wrangling and disputing and fighting over opinions. Let’s consider these gifts.

Righteousness: The righteousness inputted to us by Christ. It is God's gift of a sense of worth about yourself. It tells us that we are loved by Him; accepted by Him; and that we are valuable people in His sight.

Peace: It is that quiet and calm assurance that God is present in the situation; that He will work it out for His glory, and therefore, we need not get upset or angry, or vindictive.

Joy: Joy is that delight in life that always finds life worthwhile, even though it may be filled with problems. Joy, in a Christian, does not come from circumstances.

Paul offers these guidelines: We can enjoy our liberties, indulge them wherever we desire, but we must make sure we make it our top priority to live a life of peace with harmony in our relationships, while eagerly seeking to strengthen and encourage one another.

Conclusion Verses 20-23

“20 Stop ruining the work of God by insisting on your own opinions about food. You can eat anything you want, but it is wrong to deliberately cause someone to be offended over what you eat. 21 Consider it an act of love to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine or doing anything else that would cause a fellow believer to be offended or tempted to be weakened in his faith. 22 Keep the convictions you have about these matters between yourself and God, and don’t impose them upon others. You’ll be happy when you don’t judge yourself in doing what your conscience approves. 23 But the one who has misgivings feels miserable if he eats meat, because he doubts and doesn’t eat in faith. For anything we do that doesn’t spring from faith is, by definition, sinful.”

The Apostle submits the ultimate conclusion to this chapter. First, he said in Vs 20 that insisting on one’s own opinions destroys the work of God. The one who truly loves will exercise restraint to protect a fellow believer (Vs 21). And in verse 22 Paul goes further to say: "Keep the convictions you have about these matters between yourself and God, and don’t impose them upon others."

Be sure that what you are doing is not because of pride on your part, because you want to show off how free you are -- you are doing this because God has freed you by His Word. If you have really based it on that, then your action will be one in which your conscience is free. You will not feel guilty and troubled as to whether you are acting beyond what the Word of God really says. You will be happy, free, and blessed. But, if you do not, if you really have not settled this on the basis of Scripture, but are acting only because you want to indulge yourself; or if you still feel a bit troubled by it; and still go ahead, then you are going to be condemned by your conscience. And if you are condemned by your conscience, you will feel guilty. It will no longer be acting out of faith, and therefore, you will be sinning. (Vs 23).

On a final note, those who are “mature” should bear the burden of refraining from enjoying their liberties for the sake of the “immature” believer. Are you mature or immature?

Parts of this study was culled from:

https://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/romans/the-right-to-yield

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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