Stop Judging Others

If we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
–Romans 14:8

In Romans 14:13, Paul said, “Let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this–not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.” Paul gave two commands in this verse. First of all, he said to stop judging other people in the church. He was talking about the gray issues in the Christian life. If God has given you the freedom to do certain things in the gray areas of life, then quit judging those who do not feel like they have that freedom. If God has not given you the freedom to do these things, then quit judging those in the church to whom God has given that freedom.

The second command is to start judging yourself. Paul said, “But rather determine this–not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way” (14:13). What does “stumbling block” mean? Paul also used that term in 1 Corinthians 8. The situation at Corinth was also whether to eat meat that had been offered to an idol. In this polytheistic culture, people would offer meat to gain a god’s favor. A third of it would be consumed on the altar, a third of it would be given to the priest, and the remaining third was sold in the meat market or served in the temple restaurant. Should Christians eat meat that had been offered to an idol? Those who were stronger in the faith said, “What’s the big deal? There is no such thing as an idol.” But Christians who had come out of idol worship were offended by that and said, “How could you do such a thing?” The meat reminded them of their old way of life.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8:1, “Concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” What is this knowledge we all have? It is the knowledge that there is no such thing as an idol. Look at verse 7: “However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.” Some Christians were former idol worshippers. When they ate that meat, they were tempted to revert back to their pagan beliefs. Paul said, “Food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat” (8:8). Nothing in that meat was inherently sinful or not sinful.

Christians are on a tightrope. We have freedom, but we also have a responsibility to other Christians. That is why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8:9, “Take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” The weaker brother Paul was talking about is the person new in the faith or immature in the faith who has a conviction that he shouldn’t do this or that, but then sees you do it and rethinks his position. As a result, he goes against his conscience. “Through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died” (8:11). You would cause him to violate his conscience.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Tips On Tightrope Walking” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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