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Epistle of Paul to the Romans 14: 1-14 (NIV)
1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘Every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.’”
12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling-block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.
Christ’s family on earth is a disparate mob! While we might agree on key tenets of our faith, we do not see eye-to-eye over other issues. Infant baptism, ordination of women, lay presidency, vestments, married clergy and when to commemorate Easter are but a few.
The Apostle Paul’s advice to the church in Rome is pertinent here for two reasons:
- if a follower of Jesus does something or believes something that others consider to be of little or no consequence to the faith of the church, so long as that follower is doing it out of genuine respect for the Lord, others should withhold criticism; and
- in any case, all of us are to refrain from exercising judgement because, in the end, we all must appear before the Judge of all the world.
All of us will be called to account before God. It will do us no good then to try to compare ourselves against somebody else who may, in our estimation, have greater short-comings than we think we demonstrate. Standing before a perfect Judge, every one of us would be found deficient. Only through the grace of God are we able to appear blemish-free and that only because of the work of Jesus on the cross. Even as we thank him and praise him we must resolve to refrain from judging one another.