1 March 2014Romans 14:1-12
“If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.” (v. 8)
From general ethicail exhortations, Paul turns to a specific issue that is cuasing ripples at Rome - the conflict between Jewish and Gentile (non Jewish) Christ-followers. While the references to eating certain foods (verse 2) and judging one day to be better than another (verse 5) might have more general reference, the overall context makes it likely that Paul has in mind Jewish followers of Christ. Just as Paul warned Gentile believers to avoid arrogance in Romans 11:17-18), here he issues a similar instruction. We should not pass judgement on the servants of another, and issues around food and special days should not divide Christians.
Whatever positions Christians take on these issues, Paul encourages Christians to "honour the Lord" (v. 6) in the way that they live. If we are followers of Jesus, our lives belong to him. Jesus' death and resurrection not only save us from sin, but bring us under his rule (verses 7-9). Rather than focus on whether others follow Christ in just the way that we do, we need to be sure that our own lives reflect our submission to Christ as king.
The final verses of this passage remind Christians that each of us will give an account to God of the way we have lived (verses 7-12). Believers are assured earlier by Paul that nothing can separate them from God's love (Romans 8:31-39), so the judgement Paul speaks of isn't about salvation but accountability. If this is the case, we need to avoid arguing with our brothers and sisters in Christ over issues that are theologically indifferent, but should instead seek to love and respect them. In verse 11 Paul quotes from Isaiah in support (Isaiah 45:23), a passage that he applies to Jesus as the "Lord" before whom all will bow in praise.
- What are the issues over which Christians disagree today?
- How might we help Christians reconcile over issues that divide?
- How do we find ways of 'honouring' the Lord in every part of life?