Summary: Romans 14 offers some clear guidelines to help us sort out how we can be free in Christ without creating bondage for someone else.
Life, Love, and Liberty
Intro: John Wooden won several college basketball championships in a row while at UCLA. He was once asked, ‘What does it take to make a winning team? 3 Things:
1) Get players in right condition (right with God/Salvation/Worship)
2) Team them the fundamentals (Discipleship)
3) Teach them to play together as a team (fellowship/ministry)
Church needs to learn lesson #3 especially. (Adapted from Guy McGraw, sermoncentral)
The church has caused unnecessary hurt by imposing greater laws on believers than God has.
-There was a time Christians opposed the radio because Satan is the god of the air.
-Christians fight over “King James only” translation.
-Can a mature Christian drink or smoke?
-Can a mature Christian play a game of cards or use dice?
-Can a mature Christian go to the movie theatre?
-In my younger years I’ve known and been in churches that were against bowling, TV, women wearing pants, men having long hair, and many other rules & regulations.
-The story is told about a Catholic priest who was walking down an alley behind his church when a thief jumped out from behind some garbage cans and pressed the muzzle of his gun into the priest’s ribs.
The thief said, “Give me your wallet!”
Without hesitation, the priest went and reached for his wallet in the front pocket of his coat. It was then the thief got a glimpse of his collar.
“Are you a priest,” the thief asked?
“Yes I am,” said the priest.
“Well, put your wallet back,” the thief said. “I don’t rob priests. I am Catholic too.”
At that point, the relieved Catholic priest pulled out 2 cigars and offered one to the thief. The repentant thief responded, “Oh no, I could not do that. Smoking is wrong and I can’t believe you would do such an evil thing!”
Sometimes people have convictions about certain things, but fail to deal with the things that really matter in their lives. (Scott Kircher, sermoncentral.com)
AUGUSTINE: In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity or love. The message Paul is delivering in this section of Romans 14 is the same message he gives in 1 Corinthians 13: The greatest of these is love! Just as mercy triumphs over judgment, so love trumps liberty! Thank God for your freedoms, especially the freedom to worship Him from your heart in a free country. But hold your personal liberties loosely while holding tightly to the 2nd greatest commandment – loving one another.
-Let’s look at some guidelines to help us sort out how we can be free in Christ without creating bondage for someone else.
1. Stop Judging One Another over matters of personal preference
Romans 14:10-13a 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. 11 It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" 12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.
-Around 1928 Donald Grey Barnhouse was preaching at a Conference. He was approached by some older women who were upset that some of the younger women were not wearing stockings. He responded: The virgin Mary never wore stocking! ‘She didn’t’ In fact they were first worn in the 15th century in Italy by prostitutes. ‘OH’ It was a scandal when a wealthy woman wore then to an upper class ball. Finally Queen Victory wore them and they became the badge of a prude. (Guy McGraw, sermoncentral)
-Since we will all stand before God and give an account to Him, Paul says we should stop trying to take God’s chair! Now, let me clarify this. As I said last week, we aren’t talking about issues that are clearly outlined in Scripture. We are talking about disputable matters that are open for debate. If another believer falls into immorality or some other type of sin, we are not supposed to close our eyes to it and just leave it up to God. We have an obligation to lovingly approach one another and seek to restore the one who strays from following Jesus.
-But regarding matters of conscience or personal opinions, we should not pass judgment on one another, in essence re-writing the moral code for everyone else based on our own way of seeing things. Some things will bother you that will not bother someone else. Some things may seem okay to you, but someone else might think that only a heathen would do such things! If you typically land on the more permissive side of things, God’s word through Paul here is that you should avoid looking down on those who don’t feel as free in Christ as you apparently do. If you land on the more restrictive side, avoid judging or condemning those who don’t seem to be as conscientious as you are about staying far away from anything questionable. Most of these guidelines we’re covering today seem to be more directed at those who seem to have more liberty, but I think we can all apply them to our lives in some way. There will always be someone who has a longer list of rules than you do. Don’t automatically write them off as legalists or Pharisees. Don’t you think God had a hand in their spiritual development and formation? Love allows us to be agreeable and considerate – even if we disagree!