WITH GREAT PRIVILEGE COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY
- Key Verse
- Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this -- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. (Romans 14:13)
- READ THE CHAPTER
The purpose of Christian liberty is for the sake of others, not for ourselves. Never let your liberty in Christ lead another to stumble. Rather, let the liberty you receive in Christ lead others to freedom.
ReflectionsSo there I was, sitting at dinner with two close friends listening to them argue. These two individuals adamantly love Jesus, serve faithfully, and devote themselves to authentic community. You might ask, "What argument could cause such contention among believers?" Tonight, the topic was a socially amoral (morally neutral) activity that tends to be divisive. Yet, in the long run, it doesn't matter. Are you tracking with me? The topic wasn't what caught my attention that night. Rather, it was how easily believers can get their feathers ruffled over petty issues. Paul knew this experience well.
In Paul's day, there were two types of Christians, converted Jews and converted Gentiles. Some of the Jewish Christians still held to the traditions of the Mosaic Law, whereas the Gentile Christians did not. As a result, the Jewish Christians tried to dictate to the Gentile believers that they also should follow the Law. The Gentiles disagreed. Therefore, Paul addresses a question, "How do we disagree on the nonessentials, yet still maintain Christian unity?"
Paul's words give two applications for morally neutral situations:
1. Each person is responsible to God alone for his/her own conscience (Romans 14:1-12). Some people see things very black and white, others see many shades of gray. Either way, when it comes to social conduct where the Bible is silent, follow your conscience. Realize, however, that just because someone else chooses a different path, it doesn't mean that they're acting in sin.
2. Social liberty is for the sake of others, not yourself (Romans 14:13-23). A few years ago, I was an usher in a wedding. As I was ushering the grandmothers, it seemed to take forever to walk down the aisle. I made a conscious effort to walk at their pace the entire way, rather than set my own pace and cause them to stumble. Discipleship is similar. Sometimes, loving people well means forsaking my own freedom to "walk at my own pace" for the spiritual benefit of others. Just as Christ gave up His freedom for us temporarily on the cross, so must we for the sake of pointing others to Christ.
Discussion Questions1. In what ways are you "walking at your own pace" and not considering the spirituality of those around you? For example, do you drink alcohol around those who are sensitive to it?
2. In what ways have you thought less of someone (judged them) because of their social choices where the Bible grants social liberty? It could be a number of things. For example, what do they drive? How do they dress? What do they eat? What do they drink or not drink?
3. If you breezed through questions 1 and 2 letting yourself off the hook, how honest have you been with yourself? Go back and reconsider the previous two questions. If I were a betting man, I would bet that if we sat down over coffee and did some digging, we would find that you and I are the worst offenders of questions 1 and/or 2.
WEEKLY FAMILY ACTIVITY
Romans 13-1 Corinthians 1 (June 11-15)
Read Romans 13:8-10.
• What is a debt?
• What does verse 8 say we should do with our debts?
• Why do you think we have a debt to love others?
• Who paid our debt by dying on the cross?
We can show how thankful we are for what Jesus has done for us by following His command to love our neighbors.
• Who is your neighbor (not just your "neighbors" who live near you)?
• What does it mean to "love your neighbor as yourself?"
Activity: Make a list of the ways that you take care of yourself. Think about everything from eating healthy foods, to wanting to be listened to, to memorizing Scripture to combat the enemy. Be exhaustive. Pick five of your "neighbors" and choose something for each of them from your list of how you love yourself and love them specifically in that way this week.