Summary: Several principles of grace and acceptance as we deal with gray areas or matters of conscience.
Grace for the Gray Areas
Romans 14:1-9 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2 One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
Intro: When the British and French were fighting in Canada in the 1750s, Admiral Phipps, commander of the British fleet, was told to anchor outside Quebec and to wait for the British land forces to arrive so he could support them when they attacked the city. As the admiral waited, he became annoyed by the statues of some saints that adorned the towers of a nearby cathedral, and so he commanded his men to shoot at them with the ships’ cannons. When the signal was finally given to attack, the admiral was of no help because he had used up all his ammunition shooting at the “saints.” (Daily Bread)
-Sadly, this describes many Christians today. When God asks us to do something for Him do we find that we have nothing left to give because we’ve used up all our ammo against the saints? (Brian Bill) Paul said in Galatians 5:15: “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
-Let’s look at several principles of grace and acceptance as we deal with gray areas or matters of conscience.
1. Accept one Another
Romans 14:1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.
-Speak the language of acceptance to sinner and saint alike.
-“A “weak” believer is one who hasn’t fully grasped the extent of his or her freedom in Christ and whose conscience is therefore bothered by lifestyle choices or preferences that don’t really matter in the long run. A “strong” brother or sister is the one who can exercise his freedom in Christ with a clear conscience” (Brian Bill).
-We often like to compare ourselves with others, and we often want to control others. We can easily fall into thinking that the way we do things, or our interpretation is correct, and those who think differently must be wrong. Some people feel it is their mission to try to control how other believers think and act, judging according to their own values and standards, rather than sticking to the word of God.
-I’m certain you know this, but we are not talking about sinful behavior that the Bible clearly shows us is wrong. Sinful behaviors and lifestyles are not disputable matters. Believers are obligated to lovingly and humbly confront sin when it creeps in. (i.e. Paul tells the Corinthians not to accept the Christian man who was sleeping with his stepmom until he repented. Later he urged them to welcome him back and completely forgive him.)
-So, when we hit the gray areas and just have differences of opinion, let’s not be arrogant and think that somehow we’re privy to information that nobody else has discovered, showing that we are right and everybody else is wrong! Instead, if we have a greater sense of our freedom in Christ, we are called to accept those who might feel convicted about doing what we do. Paul will cover this in more detail a little later in the chapter, showing that not only should we not despise them, but also be willing to adjust our behavior for their benefit.
2. Do not despise those with different convictions
Romans 14:2-3a 2 One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not…