CENTRAL TRUTH: believers should encourage one another to grow in the knowledge and likeness of Christ.
MEMORY VERSE: Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. _____ Romans 14:19.
LESSON TEXT: Romans 14-1-4, 19-23; 15:1-7
- Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.
- One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.
- The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.
- Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
19. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
20. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.
21. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
22. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
23. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.[c]
- We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
- Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
- For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”[a]
- For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
- May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,
- So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Believers are to accept one another without condemnation for personal convictions. We do not have to judge others on matters of conscience which must be settled between the individual and the Lord. We must ‘’stop passing judgment on one another’’. Instead each one of us must be sensitive to how our choices affect the faith of others.
In this way, we help others grow in their personal relationship with the Lord. This lesson examines how Christians should respond to one another when they have sincere differences of opinion in order to promote spiritual growth in the church.
The apostle Paul in his lesson is urging all believers, regardless of their position on the choices they make to accept each other and desist from arguments relating to matters of personal choices. Some Christians may have no misgivings about the kind of food they eat, clothes they wear among other things but other Christians may have misgivings about certain kinds of food they eat or clothes they wear.
Another issue of choice is the religious observance on special days. Whilst some believe that the Sabbath or seventh day of the week must be set aside for worship in honour of Christ’s resurrection.
Those who feel compelled by their faith to recognize one day as special must do so in the light of their relationship to the Lord. In the Same way those whose belief makes them recognize their freedom to eat any meat or food of their choice must also do so in the light of their relationship to the Lord.
We must however remember that each of us will leave to give an amount of his life to Christ regarding how we used our liberty in Him and how we acted toward other believers on matters of choice.
It must be noted that when a Christian insists on personal freedoms that are offensive to other believers, he exhibits a lack of love. On the other hand, if a Christian voluntarily restricts his liberty in the interest of others, the weak are strengthened and the church is united. When Christians are divided because of non-essential issues as the kind of food one eats or the day one chooses to worship, we give outsiders an occasion to take us for granted.
Liberty is precious, but it carries responsibilities. Paul explained the correct use of liberty in the text under consideration. He indicated that we act rightly when we choose what will edify others rather than offend them. Although a person may consider himself strong in faith, he must not suppose that he has all the enlightenment on a given subject.
The ‘’strong’’ Christian must not become ‘’holier-than-thou’’ or despise the weak in faith. Those who are strong in faith should not be concerned only with their growth, living to please themselves. Instead they should seek to edify the weak, to help them become strong.
Christ is our example; Christ pleased God despite the awful burden of the reproaches of God’s enemies which fell on Him. Learning to please God requires that we stay in agreement to the Word of God. Hearts and minds established on God’s Word will also be resistant to any mistaken teachings or convictions that appear within a body of believers.
There may be many differences in the Body of Christ, some over behaviour, and some over peripheral doctrines. But if Jesus has accepted each of us, how can we do less than one another?
LIFE APPLICATION QUESTIONS
This lesson brought to the fore issues pertaining to believer with strong convictions on matters of personal choice and those with weak convictions. The underlying principle behind this lesson is unity in the Church. Those with strong faith and those with weak faith regarding matters of personal choice are united by virtue of the justifying faith which makes all of them one body in Christ. It must however noted that the call to accept others; differences is not a call to accept others’ sin. The guidance of the Holy Spirit must be sought on matters pertaining to personal choices so as not deviate from the truth. As we trust the Holy Spirit to guide us in matters like this, we will be able to distinguish the genuine Christian with whom we disagree from the worldly hypocrite whom we should avoid.
_________________ DAILY BIBLE READING ______________
Monday: Growing in the Lord. (1 Samuel 3: 15-21).
Tuesday: Growing in Wisdom. (Proverbs 8:15-21).
Wednesday: Growing in Trust. (Isaiah 26:1-4).
Thursday: Growing in Understanding. (Ephesians 1:15-23).
Friday: Growing in Godliness. (Colossians 1:9-13).
Saturday: Growing in Love. (1 John 4:7-12).