Higher Judge, Higher Way

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 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. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? 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. 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. Each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother… For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. It is good not to… do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” Romans 14:1-6,12-13,15,17,19,21

The human tendency in the course of living is to establish our own standards and compare ourselves to others. Paul tells the Romans, be done with that! You think it’s alright to eat certain foods rejected by religious followers, you judge others who abstain or indulge, and even cause others to stumble by exercising your freedom because it caused them to doubt or go against their conscience- Stop! The Lord is Judge, all will stand before Him. You are focusing on and weighing the wrong things.

Our mission should be not to judge or stumble others, but to act in love, to make deliberate decisions that prefer others and promote peace, joy, and spiritual unity, to be willing to give up what is my privilege for another’s good and growth. This is what is mutually edifying: it builds up the weak and the less weak, it points us all to a higher way that is directed to Almighty God, not ourselves.

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Who and what is it I really care most about? My comforts and pleasures? How many times do I hear myself say, “I want to..”? Or, maybe my chatter denigrates others’ choices,  political persuasions, activities or lack thereof, as though mine are superior. When I accept and bow before the Higher Judge, I am free to live and love the higher way, for the blessing and benefit and upbuilding of others for whom Jesus also died and lives.

Righteous One, forgive my low deliberating, my fleshly living, and elevate my energies in every way. May my words and thoughts be pleasing to You. Cause me to pursue what is highest and best for everyone, especially for Your honor and glory. (Psalm 19:14)

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