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Theology in Romans - Practical Suggestions for applying Romans 14 Print E-mail
Theology in Romans

I.  Introduction:

 As we have shifted from Romans 1-11 to Romans 12-16 we have noted the increase in emphasis on practically applying what we believe (our theology) to our lives.  Before we move next week to walking through the possible revisions to our Constitution and By-Laws, I want to spend our time together tonight looking further at ways we can apply what Paul teaches us in Romans 14.  Thus, I am going to start with a command from the text and then try to talk about how we can apply that to our relationships and dealings with each other.

II.  Commands and Practical Suggestions:

 A.  Welcome the weak: In verse 1 Paul commands us to welcome the one who is weak in faith.  In one sense, this is the general idea of the whole chapter although other commands will be added.  In our sermon on this text we talked about the idea of Ďwelcomingí as truly accepting and genuinely loving.  Unlike other texts (in particular Galatians) Paul is not distinguishing here between Christians and Non-Christians.  He considers both the weak and the strong in this chapter to be believers.  Both are seeking to honor the Lord (v. 6) in their convictions and practices.  Thus, we need to give other believers the benefit of the doubt.  Practically this means that we need to avoid assumptions and unfair implications.  Rather, we need to listen carefully to what they believe and why.  We need to think hard with them, not simply to defeat them in an argument (see v. 1), but to understand each other and what the Bible teaches.  We need to pray with them (and for them and for ourselves) for wisdom.  Likewise, it is probably good to note that we need to determine the significance of the issue.  We need not break fellowship over issues that should not divide true believers.  As we talk and communicate and live out our faith together, we need to remember what matters are truly significant (those that bind us together as brothers and sisters in Christ) and what matters are not as significant (those that we can disagree on and still be followers of Christ).  Making the distinction can be difficult at times, but we need to our best by Godís grace to avoid division over less-significant issues.  We need to welcome one another.

 B.  Donít be judgmental toward or despise one another:  Paul gives this clear exhortation in verses 2-3 and again in verse 10.  Let me just begin with some honesty and confess that this is difficult for me at times.  I have often found myself responding poorly in my disagreements with other believers.  I am often too quick to speak and therefore too quick to judge.  Maybe you struggle like me or maybe your struggle is that you judge/despise others only you never say anything so that makeís it alright.  Yet, you notice that over time even these attitudes begin to surface and impact your relationships with other believers.  How can we fight against these tendencies?  Well, probably the biggest step we all need to take (and I mentioned this in my sermon last week) is to fight for humility.  Before we obsess over everybody elseís problems, we need to keep a good eye on our own.  When we deal with the all the logs in our own eyes we will be better prepared to deal with the specks in the eyes of others (to paraphrase Jesus).  We simply need to work hard at being humble.  Likewise, we need to avoid losing patience when communicating with others.  I have to preach this to myself again and again.  I want people to understand my point of view and when I have made my arguments and they donít yet agree, I grow frustrated and impatient.  Yet, the Lord is so patient with me and I need to be patient with others.

 Another idea that might be helpful to mention (again one that I struggle with) is to avoid using too much humor (especially sarcasm).  I have a tendency to think if I can get people laughing then that will solve everything.  But sometimes people are offended by that and view it as me not taking the situation seriously enough.  So, we need to be careful with that and not despise people (even if we donít mean to) with our humor.

 C. Be fully convinced in your own mind: I think the best practical application of this command is to study and pray for wisdom.  Whatever the issue may be, avoid thinking that you have nothing more to learn.  Read and listen to different opinions.  In the end, make a decision, be fully convinced, and donít feel that it is necessary for you to make that public in such a way that does not remain humble and teachable.  Likewise, it is alright at times to study with others who may disagree with you on these issues, but be careful that your goal is not to simply quarrel over opinions (v. 1). 

 D. Do not cause another to stumble: Paul spends verses 13-23 on this exhortation, calling for the strong to do all that they can to avoid causing the weak to stumble.  One simple practical suggestion for keeping this command is to examine your practices and decisions and look for anything that could be offensive to a brother.  That doesnít necessarily mean that you have to cease the practice, but you may want to be certain that you do it in such a way as to not cause a brother to stumble.  Of course, it goes without saying, do not flaunt your liberties in front of those who might be offended.  We must avoid this.  It reveals a lack of love/concern for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

III.  Conclusion:

 As I said to close the sermon last week, we need to remember who we are in the Lord.  We need to look around and see the people for whom Christ died.  Why would we not labor in loving them?  Why would we not fight for humility in light of the fact that none of us deserve to be in this family?  We are all here by grace, amazing grace.  Thus, may we lavish that grace and that love upon each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.  Amen.

 

Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 April 2013 )

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