Summary: A sermon on Romans 14:13-21 on how to handle people who are Christians but they are different from us in their opinions (Material adapted from Dave Swavely's book, Who Are You to Judge? and outline from Don Robinson)
Been a few Sunday’s since preached in the morning. Several topics I thought about: the evils of tobacco, the evils of tattoos/ piercings, public, private or homeschooling, how modern country music, rap music, and rock music are all the devil’s music, a woman who wears pants or slacks is breaking the command about cross dressing, people who take psychiatric medications are not trusting in God, Politics especially Republican vs. Democrat.
Why do I not talk about all of this: This is opinion. Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent.
Talking on Sunday night from Romans 14 about what to do when someone is different from us and they claim to be Christians. They have different personal convictions from us about things that are not talked about in the Bible like the things I just mentioned.
Must say that we need to have personal convictions for the safety of our own faith, witness, and families. God wants us to give thoughtful and prayerful consideration to disputable matters (Romans 14:1), until we develop a personal conviction based on careful study, godly counsel and even debate with other Christians. Need to do this so that we are not just going along with the crowd and then enticed to sin and/or damage our witness for Jesus.
However, from this, personal convictions can lead to division. One person believes something and someone else holds a contrary position. Conflict and division come from this.
Paul is talking to the “strong” group that believes it is fine to drink and eat anything including meat. Another group “the weak” believe that is it wrong to eat anything but vegetables because the meat from the meat market may have been used in sacrifice to a pagan idol and god. Paul, (coming to a personal conviction and being fully convinced in his own mind, vs. 5), is with the strong group. Even so the strong have an obligation to the weak. Need to build each other up (mutual edification, vs. 19) and not tear each other down. Need to do what leads to peace and harmony and avoid anything that will cause unnecessary division.
Even though we have freedom in Christ to do many things, we need to head these words: ““Everything is permissible”--but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”--but not everything is constructive.” 1 Corinthians 10:23, NIV. Even when we have freedom in a particular area of our lives, we may sometimes need to restrict our freedom for the purpose of building up our fellow Christians.
There are times when it is not right to enjoy our liberty in Christ, because doing so would be harmful to another Christian. Look up and read 1 Corinthians 8:4-13.
We need to be aware of the weaknesses of other Christians and be careful to act in a way that edifies them rather than encourages them to sin. Look up and read Romans 15:1-2
Dave Swavely- One time I was playing Uno with 3 of my children. The youngest one, Madison, was only 4 and still learning how to win and lose with grace. So when things were not going her way in the game, she would be tempted to whine and cry. In one game, she was not doing well at all, and she was on the verge of losing it. I, on the other hand, was about to win, and I almost put down a “Draw 4” card which would have put her deeper into the hole and almost certainly sent her over the edge emotionally. But I didn’t want to have to discipline her for throwing a tantrum, and I wanted her to have a good first experience with Uno, so I kept the “Draw 4” card in my hand and picked one off the pile (which disadvantaged me). Then the next time around, the only card I could play was the “Draw 4” card again, but after staring into Madison’s blue eyes and noticing her quivering lip, I kept it in my hand and drew again. This happened a third time and a fourth time, until Madison finally won the game and I was left with a big stack of cards! I don’t like losing any kind of game, even when the winner is so cute, but I thought afterwards what a great illustration this is of how we should treat one another in the body of Christ. We must be willing to give up our rights and our freedoms to keep others from going down the wrong path, when we know they might be headed that way.