Word from Scotland
by Sandy Shaw
We come to Romans Chapter 14and verse 4 – as we read of how Paul deals with behaviour problems which can arise, and which do arise.
To whom is the weaker brother responsible? God is his master. Welcome him. If God has welcomed him, you cannot refuse him. You may not always agree with him in everything - but welcome him as a brother. Warmly welcome brothers - not for argument - not for debate - not for contention - not to impose your views upon him - just welcome him for himself. His views might even change as you love him with the love of Christ. And his view might even change your view as you receive the love of Jesus Christ through him.
Don’t despise or judge those who think differently on issues that are not central to the faith - matters that are not crucial. Don’t judge him just because you think he is narrow minded - ‘he is a weaker brother’, says Paul - and he must not judge those who think certain things are all right. It is attitude which is so important – we are not to regard anyone with contempt.
In verse 4 we have the picture of a domestic servant. Can you imagine being in a home and criticising the servants of the host? ‘What a bad cook you’ve got.’ So don’t go into Church and criticise the domestic servant of Christ. Before God they stand or fall - they are answerable to Christ. Each of us is answerable to Christ.
These verses warn us regarding fellow believers. Can you imagine being in a court - and the judge’s seat is vacant - the judge has not yet come in - and you decide to arise and go and sit in that seat. How long would you be in that seat? That is just a human judge.
Then Paul deals with our motive - ask why a person thinks that way - ask about a person’s motive - they should be acting in that way out of love for The Lord Jesus - not just to please self.
Verses 5 to 9 – an individual Christian has the absolute right to think for himself on any matter that is not clear in Scripture. He must come to his own conviction - he must not be ruled by custom, convention or superstition. Do’s and don'ts can be a matter of prejudice.
Every Christian must think these things through for himself. It is not just a matter of outward conformity, but inward reality. It must come from the heart. And - you must be fully convinced that what you are doing is right. You are responsible to God. Honour the Lord in all you do. Just do what the Lord Jesus would like to see you doing in that situation. Honour the Lord in all you do and wherever you go. The motive is vital.
We are not selfishly to please ourselves. We are to honour Jesus Christ.
Remember people are watching - but that is not the main motive. Opinion is not all that important. In my opinion - is that very important? What will so and so say - or think - does that really matter?
And of course the big question is - What honours the Lord God? We live to the Lord knowing that people are looking to us - and perhaps even following our example.
You can almost hear some people saying - “If it is all right for him to do that then it must be all right for me to do that. If it is all right for him to go there then it must be all right for me to go there.” Just be honouring the Lord - and then you have nothing to fear.
Verse 10 - One day we shall all stand before HIM - the BEMA - the great white throne of judgement - the BEMA is to assess your service for Jesus in this life. We are going to have to answer for everything we have done. I am answerable for everything I have done, said, preached, taught, written. I have to give account for me. You have to give account for you.
Paul quotes from Isaiah - We will all kneel - we will confess everything on that day - the whole truth. Very few people are aware of this – but it just happens to be true.
Verse 13 is so important - because of my love for my brother I will not want to damage him or harm him or hurt him in any way - remember, love does no ill. If my love for him is real, I will be considerate.
Paul uses very strong words here - stumbling-block - hindrance - injured - ruin - destroy. I will limit my liberty out of love - in case I harm him or hurt him in any way.
Therefore, because we are going to stand before the judgement throne of God one day - and that is one appointment every man will keep - let us stop passing judgement upon one another.
The words of Jesus in Matthew 12verses 33to 37 – Matthew 15 verses 16 to 20 and Matthew 22verses 34to 40 – help us a lot in this area of belief and behaviour.
We are never more loving than when we are expressing what is in our hearts, with gratitude and thanksgiving, through Praise and Worship offered to our living God.
“Loving Father we worship You and we praise You – that You for all You do for us – for all You have done for us over the years in Christ Jesus our Saviour and Lord – help us to grapple with these difficult parts of Scripture – and so be more able to shine with the light of Jesus and serve in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen”
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Alexander 'Sandy' Shaw is pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship in Nairn, Scotland. Nairn is 17 miles east of Inverness - on the Moray Firth Coast - not far from the Loch Ness Monster!
Gifted as a Biblical teacher, Sandy is firmly committed to making sure that his teachings are firmly grounded in the Word.
Sandy has a weekly radio talk which can be heard via the Internet on Saturday at 11:40am, New Orleans time, at wsho.com.
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