Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.”
As we move into our passage for the week, remember that we’re still talking about “disputable matters”—things neither commanded nor prohibited to Christians. In the previous section Paul was addressing the “weaker” believer, now he turns his attention to the “stronger.”
And what does Paul tell us? He says to stop judging each other and to make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.
Paul is pretty straightforward with what we’re to do. When we read the verse it makes sense to us. But for whatever reason, when it comes to putting it into action, it becomes very difficult. I think it’s because of pride—at least it is in my life; especially when I feel like someone is wrong in a particular matter. I can even begin to become prideful in view of that person—“they just don’t understand, they’re so locked up, if only…” You see what is wrong with this kind of thinking? There is no good that can come from it. I think that’s why Paul basically says to “Just stop it! Don’t make things worse.”
Paul is calling us to see these disputable matters for what they are: matters of moral indifference. We should determine that when it comes to “disputable matters,” we would never do anything to hinder a person in their spiritual progress, or hinder our own progress with Jesus. None of these nonessential matters are important enough for us to cause someone to stumble or to fall.
So what does it look like for us to live as Paul says here? I think it begins by realizing that our freedom in Christ doesn’t give us the freedom to flaunt our spiritual liberty/freedom around. We’re wrong to use our freedom without regard to the effect it may have on the people for whom Christ died. Isn’t that a sobering thought? How much better would it be if our concern was about the growth of the body as a whole rather than our own freedom and spiritual advancement.
The focus of our freedom in Christ is not to be on our own selves, but rather on the glory of God and the good of others. We’re to have a Christ-like love for our fellow believer. I can’t help but think how much better it would be if I would learn to defer to folks, rather than dig my heels in on disputable matters. I need to trust God to work on the heart—both mine and the other person.
I’ll close with this quote from Douglas Moo, I think he is spot on: “Liberty is wonderful, but love—is even greater!”
So think about this: are there areas in your life where your freedom in Christ—the liberty you have because of your faith in Christ—is causing you to have a critical spirit of others? What would it look like for you to set your liberty aside and just love the person?
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the Gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest. Romans 8-16 For You: For reading, for feeding, for leading (God’s Word For You – Romans Series Book 2, Keller, Timothy.