Tuesday, September 15, 2009
When not to Judge Part 1
"Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way". Romans 14:13 (NKJV)
There are some areas that we are not to judge in.
Firstly, don't judge others personal convictions/preferences.
Romans 14:13 says, "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way". This does not mean that by judging others in any situation we are stumbling them and so we should not judge at all. We must read the whole context that starts with Paul pinpointing a particular problem the church in Rome was experiencing.
Romans 14:1-4 gives us the context: "Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand."
The problem with the Roman Christians, that Paul is addressing, is that they were disputing "over doubtful things". They were judging each other concerning their own personal convictions and preferences in their worship to God. These were not black and white moral issues but grey areas of conduct.
Personal convictions include Christian practices such as what food and/or drinks they can or cannot consume, which day is the Sabbath and what can or cannot be done on the Sabbath and so forth. Paul's teaching in Romans 14 is that these are not black and white areas and we may differ greatly in these areas. In Christ we have been freed from legalistic practices but that does not mean we must force others into the same freedoms we have if their conscience cannot take it. We must not put stumbling blocks before Christians in areas where they have a weaker conscience.
One example Is drinking beer. I come from a culture and background where drinking beer is a socially acceptable practice among Christians, as long as we do not get drunk. I go on missions trips to Cambodia and make sure that I do not openly drink beer there as it is not acceptable for Christians for a variety of reasons. If I did drink beer in front of other Christians there they may think, "This pastor is drinking beer, why can't I?". However, they may well start drinking and have too much and be stumbled, feeling shameful due to the cultural context. I could say to them, "You are free in Christ to drink alcohol in moderation, Jesus did!" but I would really be judging their convictions.
Therefore, the over riding principle that Paul is getting to is that we must always take the most loving course of action. If we know person has certain convictions that are not sinful we should not judge and challenge those conviction and we should act in a way that will not stumble them.
Do not judge others in areas that are gray,
Such as the food they prefer or their chosen special day.
These personal convictions are not life and death,
But show the variety we have from the one who gave us breath.
"Lord, help me to hold judgment when it comes to other's personal preferences that are not necessarily sinful, but different to mine. Help me not to be a stumbling block but a stepping stone for your love to walk into our relationship. Amen!"