Dear Student of the Word,
We are closing in on the end of our study of Romans and I have begun to think about the next focus for this study. We have some important things to cover yet in Romans, however, so let's not move on too quickly. Paul's habit was to teach theology in the first half of his letters, then teach practical life in the last half. Romans is no exception. In this thirteenth installment, we focus on Paul's desire that the Roman believers not turn their freedom to do this or that into something that offends others in the process. I wrote in part three of this seven-part study (which you can download below):
Study Thirteen, Part Three
5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
14:5 – You should do what you are fully convinced God wants you to do, without trying to impose that on others. As a pastor, I often preached messages to the congregation that were meant (at least in part) for me. I was trying to distribute the load, however, hoping to make it lighter on me by including others in my problem.
For example, God could be dealing with me about my tongue, so I would preach a message about the tongue, acting like it was also the problem of others. Now that may have been true and I should have preached that message while looking to myself as one who needed to hear it most. That would keep me gentle with the people, instead of ‘beating them up’ with the Word.
Then there was the temptation to talk and preach about the will of God and not do it. Don’t go on a crusade to change the world; first, change yourself. A famous man once said, “First become the change that you seek.” That is good advice. Your actions may be the best sermon you can ever preach.
14:6-8 – We all belong to God and don’t (or should not) live for ourselves any longer. The changes I make, the things I do, and the work I devote myself to, are all for the Lord. Often when I try to change others or get them to do something, it isn’t for God’s sake; it is for my sake. I want them to do it because I must do it or because it’s my burden, not because I love them and want God’s best for them.
Paul was telling the saints here not to meddle in other’s affairs and to mind their own business. You should be so busy working on yourself that you have no time to work on others. You should have plenty of time to help and serve them, but not plenty of time to try and change them or their behavior.
Are you meddling in
the affairs of others that don’t pertain to you? Have you lost your personal
peace over some issue that would best be left alone? Do you say “we” or ‘many
people’ have this problem, when you should be saying, ‘I have this problem”? For truth be told, you don't know what problems others have; you only know your own and even then you can be deceived as to your spiritual condition.
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the unpublished volume of The Faith Files.