Summary: We continue to look at how the Lord desires us to live in the war zone of this age - compliant with government as long as it doesn’t force us to violate God’s Word and loving to others who are not as far along as we in their walk with God.
Living as a believer in this age is like being in a war zone. It’s hostile territory. In chapters 12-15 Paul explains how we can not only exist, but do God’s will and even thrive in enemy lands. We do it by knowing our place and purpose. Our place is as a part of the body of Christ and our purpose is to do battle against our enemy, Satan, by shining the light of God’s love into this world and rescuing as many as we can from darkness.
Chapter 13 was all about how live as a citizen of God’s kingdom in the nation God has placed you. Chapter 14 is all about living like a citizen of the kingdom within the body of Christ. Why should Paul have to do that? The old saying is really true, Christians are the only soldiers who shoot their own wounded. This can happen in two ways: we give little room for our fellow believers to fail and we judge those who don’t live up to our way of thinking. Paul deals with the former in places like Galatians 6:
Gal 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
This same principal can be applied to dealing with people who are not as far along in their walk as you, or with people who are acting in ways that make you feel uncomfortable because of their “freedom”. We are pretty quick on the trigger, when we should be slow and gentle.
James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
I’ve pulled eleven principles from chapter 14 to help you deal with debatable issues, and they fall into two major categories: 1-don’t force your opinions on others and 2-don’t force your practices on others. We got through the first 4 last time. Let’s review:
(1) Don’t expect everyone to be just like you (1)
(2) Don’t look down on someone just because they aren’t as far along as you think you are. (2-3)
(3) Micro-ethics won’t keep us out of heaven, so why should the keep us apart from each other? (vs 4)
• Denominational Distinctives or Styles of worship (contemporary, traditional, casual, formal, liturgy)
• Version of the Bible (King James only, for example)
• Engaging in certain activities (dancing, movies, cards, etc)
• Day of worship
• Political point of view
• View of creation (when, not whether God created)
• Church government
(4) Encourage thinking, not arguing (vs 5)
So now we come to verse 6, which brings us to what is in many ways the heart of the matter—motivation.
(5) It still comes down to glorifying God and being accountable to Him (vs 6 – 12)
What is your motivation? Is it to bring God honor, or to yourself?
If we belong to God, then it is to Him that we live and act—for we will give account of our lives to Him—not to each other.
The judgment Paul is talking about here is the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10), where we get an audit of how we have faithfully executed God’s tasks for us.
2 Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Don’t Force Your Practices on Others (13 – 23)
(6) Don’t look down on those that are different. (13 – 15)
By insisting on your own style, you may hurt someone else’s walk, is it worth it?
Paul said: 1 Cor 6:12 "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything.”
Just because you have the freedom in Christ to do something doesn’t make it helpful to do it. In this case it is more important to think about how your actions will be viewed by a weaker brother or sister than whether you are allowed to do it or not. For example, dancing. Not too long ago, and still in some Christian circles, dancing was seen as evil. My wife and I love to dance. We’ve taken some lessons and though we will never try out for “So You Think You Can Dance” we do enjoy learning different dance styles. But if I’m with a group of people that I know have a hard time with that, I’m not going to focus on how wrong they are to prohibit dancing.
And I understand that originally there were reasons behind this prohibition—namely that people wanted to guard against sexual immorality and close physical contact in dancing might be seen as encouraging that. So instead of teaching from the Word and discipling, we just make a rule and that’s that.