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Summary: Special message for our county fair about how when we hang out with Jesus, he changes our lives and makes us effective witnesses for Him.

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Foundations for Healthy Personal Relationships

Part 3 – Respecting Other People’s Boundaries

Romans 14

August 15, 2010

NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT IS FROM ANDY STANLEY'S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."

Me: I spent my high school years in a rather permissive atmosphere.

My dad and step-mom weren’t overly strict, and so I did things that I shouldn’t have done, and that on more than one occasion should have landed me in jail. I’ve mentioned some of those things before.

After I became a Christian, and especially after getting involved in a good church, I found myself in a different kind of atmosphere, and in some ways, it was just as bad.

Not because of what we did or didn’t do, but because of the mindset I learned to adopt, and that was to think that every Christian had to think and act just like me, doing what I did, and not doing what I didn’t do.

I don’t think that was the church’s fault, as much as it was the crowd I hung out with – young Christians who I believe were really trying to live lives that would please God.

Unfortunately, we became our own little set of Pharisees who judged other Christians based on our own set of rules, not really based on Scripture.

We: If I were a betting man, I would lay odds that I’m not the only one who could make that claim, and not just about their younger years.

Some of you might be dealing with some of that right now.

I think that most Christians do, from time to time.

We tend to look at other Christians through the lenses of our own preferences and experiences and we offer acceptance to them based on how they pass through those filters.

So what does God have to say about that?

God/You:

We’re going to look today at Romans 14 (p. 804-805).

Let me give you a bit of context, okay?

This passage addresses one thing in particular, and that is eating meat.

Why is this a big deal? People have been eating meat for many centuries, and they had been doing so in Rome as well.

The issue was that, according to scholars, most, if not all the meat offered in the marketplace in the Roman empire was offered to idols before it was put out for sale.

And there were people in that area whose consciences bothered them because they didn’t want to be seen as accepting or condoning idol worship.

Their heart was in the right place – they wanted to make sure they honored God even in what they eat. And that’s an admirable thing, right?

How many of us choose our food with the idea of honoring God in what we eat?

Most of us, myself included, have looked at a plate full of artery-clogging food and ask God to bless it to our bodies.

And I think God looks at us and says, “Forget that, man. You choose to eat that, you choose the high blood pressure that comes with it.”

So anyway, these Romans and others were wanting to make sure they weren’t offending God in what they ate.

In our area and time, we could talk about stuff like:

Drinking

Dancing

Smoking

Watching certain types of movies

Wearing certain types of clothing

Using certain words

Listening to country music…

All of these things are things that Christians deal with and argue about every day. But none of these things are things that our salvation hinges on.

And none of these are necessarily sin.

At least, not according to Scripture.

But as I mentioned, Christians argue about this stuff all the time, and it can come between otherwise godly Christians who in all other aspects agree and could minister together and have fellowship together – if it weren’t for one or more of these things coming between them.

I believe God frowns on that. And I believe that’s why Romans 14 is in the Bible. So we’re going to look at that.

Today, I’m going to read the whole passage. But not in the order it’s written.

I’m going to point out six principles this passage teaches about respecting other people’s boundaries, but in order to present these in an order that’s understandable to people like me, I’m going to group together the verses that pertain to the point being made.

And in some cases, I many end up repeating a verse or two to keep it in its context.

So let’s work through these six principles, and I pray that this will be encouraging to you and yet challenge all of us to maybe cut some people some slack when we come across areas of disagreement over what this passage calls “disputable matters” – those things that some feel they biblical license for but others don’t feel they have that same license.

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