Romans 12-15 The Practice of Salvation
Affects the way I think about people I disagree with (14:1-15:13)
Romans 14:1-12-Continuing with the theme of mercy...Paul tells us to “accept” other people that we disagree with…those people who may not practice their faith exactly as we do. The word “accept” goes beyond merely give intellectual consent. It actually speaks of a more personal reception.
- to take to, take in addition, to take to one's self
- to take as one's companion
- to take by the hand in order to lead aside
- to take or receive into one's home, with the collateral idea of kindness
- to receive, i.e. grant one access to one's heart
- to take into friendship and intercourse
- to take to one's self, to take: i.e. food
denotes "to take to oneself" (pros, "to") or "to receive," always in the Middle Voice, signifying a special interest on the part of the receiver, suggesting a welcome, Act 28:2; Rom 14:1, 3; 15:7; Phm 1:12 (in some mss; the best omit it); Phm 1:17.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4355&t=NASB
These are not matters of the content of faith. These are matters of the practice of faith where there is no clear differentiation of right and wrong…but are practices of personal persuasion, and conscience. Paul gives four reasons why we should accept them: 1.-God has accepted them (:3); 2.-the Lord is able to make them stand…meaning to give an acceptable answer for their behavior; 3.-they belong to the Lord just as we do; 4.-they are ultimately responsible to God for their practice, and not to us (:12). He gives two examples of those that we night disagree with: 1.-those who don't eat meat, but vegetables only (:2-3); and, 2.-those who recognize certain days to have spiritual significance, that we don't recognize (:5-6). In both examples, their intention is to do what they do for the Lord (:6-8).
Romans 14:13-15-Paul now goes a step further in how we are to “accept” those that we disagree with. He says that not only are we to not openly judge those who practice their faith in other ways...but we are also to be careful that we don't hold to the way that we practice our faith with such an attitude (i.e.-saying that our way is the only correct way) that we become a stumbling block for those who do so differently. In other words, while we may not openly oppose their practice…we may passively oppose it by suggesting that while their practice of worship may not be wrong…somehow, ours is more right, or superior to theirs. We may not put a roadblock in front of them that stops their practice…but we do put a stumbling block in front of them that damages their faith (:15).
Romans 14:16-18-These practices are a shadow of the reality (:17). Do not let the shadow become more important than the reality. While we may not agree completely on the shadows...we should be careful in our disagreement to not do damage to the faith of others. Sometimes, they hold to these things because they have not become strong (mature) in their faith.
Romans 14:19-Paul takes yet another step forward in how we are to accept those that we disagree with. We are to take the initiative to intentionally do things that create peace among believers and build each other up (:19)...those things that help others to grow in their faith. Paul says that we are to “pursue” these things…which means to actively make a deliberate effort.
Follow, Follow After:
(a) "to drive away," Mat 23:34;
(b) "to pursue without hostility, to follow, follow after," said of righteousness, Rom 9:30; the Law, Rom 9:31; 12:13, hospitality ("given to") lit., "pursuing" (as one would a calling); the things which make for peace, Rom 14:19; love, 1Cr 14:1; that which is good, 1Th 5:15; righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness, 1Ti 6:11; righteousness, faith, love, peace, 2Ti 2:22; peace and sanctification, Hbr 12:14; peace, 1Pe 3:11;
He isn’t saying to give up your convictions, or that your convictions are not important. However, he is saying that in matters of the practice of the faith…if there is no clear right or wrong…and it is a matter of personal conviction…don’t allow your personal conviction to become more important than another person. Someone has said, “You like blue and I like yellow. Together, we will make green.” Someone else has said, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
Sometimes, if it will strengthen the faith of another believer, I should be willing to humble myself and join him in his practice of the faith. This is not a compromise of the content of the faith, but a concession to the practice of the faith.
Prayer: Lord, at times I have judged others for their practices of their faith. Please help me to be able to discern the difference between those things that are merely shadows (and have no consequence on the content of the faith), and those things that are detrimental to the faith. Help me to give grace to others...and seek to build them up in the faith.