June 21, 2023 – Romans 14:13-23
There are two types of ways to live this life: “I am the center,” or “others are my focus.” One is self-serving, the other is service-oriented. One is concerned only about getting my needs best, the other is always considering what’s best for others.
In Romans 14, Paul continues his theme of how believers should act toward those who struggle with different temptations. Using this paradigm, when it comes to being service-oriented, Paul challenges believers to make choices considering not just what’s best for them, but rather what would ultimately help the other person in their struggle. With love continuing to be the overall goal of our faith, we must consider that love often means sacrifice, setting aside our freedoms for the sake of others.
It would be easy to think, “Well, aren’t I free in Christ?” “As long as it’s not contradictory to God’s Word, aren’t I free to act as I chose?” Paul later challenges this thinking in Galatians 5:13, "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love." In other words, the attitude of love when it comes to others' struggles is not, “Well, I guess that’s their burden to bear.” Instead, we have been set free to love others well. That means we’re called to “love one another as we love ourselves.” That means realizing that experiencing true satisfaction in this life is not just getting our needs met, but living for the freedom of others.
Paul concludes in Romans 14:17, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…"
His challenge for all of us today: What’s more important, you missing out on a few earthly conveniences, or someone experiencing the freedom, peace, and joy that can only be found in Jesus? In light of eternity, our pleasures and conveniences this side of heaven should pale in comparison to the eternal victory and joy available to every one of us.
Questions for reflection:
- Has there ever been a time when you were free to make a choice or exercise your freedom, but chose to restrain out of respect for others who might struggle with that temptation? How did it make you feel to put boundaries up for the sake of others?
- Is there a decision you made or a temptation you resisted that at the time seemed to be so difficult, but later you were so thankful you chose God’s way?