Romans: Relationships and Not Rules

Focus: Rom 14:1-12

They may have had the same parents, but often brothers and sisters end up very differently. I have known families where you begin to wonder if the two kids came out of the same gene pool because they act and look different. Was one swapped at birth in the hospital?  You could argue with them about everything in life but you agree to disagree and accept them as they are because they are family. Paul, in this text, is telling us to do the same thing with our Christian brothers and sisters. Accept them even though they have faults without passing judgment on them. Love them and build the relationship so that you can help them be the best Christian that they can be. Consider three things before you judge them.

God is still working with the every one of us. (v. 4) No Christian is a finished product. We are all God's work in progress. This is particularly the case for a new Christian. They are still just learning what it means to be a child of God. They will slip and say a cuss word. They are still learning to give generously of their talents and their resources. Give God time to work in the lives of every Christian to help them become more like Him. If we see someone who doesn’t understand what it means to be a Christian, we are to teach them rather than judge.

Only God can read the heart. (v.6) Only God can see the motives that people have. Only the Lord is in a place to judge whether it is ignorance, honest differences or sinful arrogance that makes a person do what he is doing. Why does one give up something for Lent and another refuse to do so? Why is one person sensitive to gossip or another sensitive about drinking? Often it is something in their history like a gossip who destroyed their character or an alcoholic father.

Relationships help build people up more than rules. (v. 7) The church’s goal is not to look good to the community or the world. It is about helping people grow and mature in Christ so that they can serve each other and the world. We are not to worry what the world thinks, but about how people are developing and changing. Give someone acceptance for who they are and some mentoring to who God wants them to be, and you will see people do miracles. They will be able to overcome their past and grow into the child of God who can mentor and help others.

If we focus on building relationships and on improving each other, we can have a better church. God wants us to build each other up so that the church as a whole is stronger and more like the Lord. Such a church is committed to each other. God's people genuinely love one another. They love each other so much that when they see a weakness in each other, they don’t ignore it but try to help their brother or sister. They also teach each other and encourage each other. He wants us to build the relationships with each other that bring lasting change from the inside out.