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Mid-Week with Christ
September 9, 2020

Stand for Yourself

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Romans 14:1-10

 
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
 

Prayer for the Day

 
Heavenly Father, help us to show understanding and compassion towards others we consider weak in faith. May we also be surrounded by those who show the same comfort to us whom they consider the ones who are weak, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

One of Jesus' most quoted teachings is his command that we "judge not, that you not be judged" (Matthew 7:1, ESV). What exactly does Jesus mean? Is he suggesting an "everything goes" attitude that sees all behaviour as morally acceptable? Is he calling for a form of quietism, where Christians withdraw from the wider world and seek to live lives untainted by non-Christian society? Or could he mean something else? 

Jesus does explain what he means if we read on in Matthew 7. Why should we "not judge?" Because "with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you" (Matthew 7:2, ESV). In other words, we should expect that the criticism we level against others will also be directed back against us. 

Paul applies this idea with regards to the "weak in faith," those whose religious activities may seem "stuck in the past" and not in line with the freedom Christians have in the Gospel. He is not speaking here about moral issues so much as cultic issues: days of worship, forms of worship, and the like. In these things, Paul says, there must be a freedom in the Gospel. After all, a believer in Christ is doing these things to honour the Lord, and there are a variety of ways to show that honour. 

Behind Paul's words, as always, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ has died to set us free from bondage to worldly "religious" ways of earning God's love. Let us therefore not judge each other's actions as being worthy of more or less praise, but stand on our own before the Lord who has redeemed us. The judgment that God has passed on us is "not guilty" by the blood of Christ - who are we to reverse that sentence? Jesus loved the repentant sinners and tax collectors who came to him in trust. Who are we to despise them? "Whether we live or die," Paul writes, "we are the Lord's." So are our Christian brothers and sisters, no matter the strength of their faith.
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