Living as an encouraged person is living in the truth or living by a standard higher than many people chose to live. If the way you chose to live is based solely on what you can do or what you can provide, you will fail. If you haven’t yet, you will. Listen carefully. I did not say you are a failure, yet there are ways we live that make us fail.
God made us for success. He also made us for relationships. That is to connect with people. We aren’t to live life alone. Remember, no man is an island as John Donne said. We aren’t out here seeking to survive or find success without connection to God. Again that is a choice we can make but not a good one.
In the scripture before us is the continuation of the application of faith or Christian teaching. Godly or changed living is possible by the grace of God. But along the way there are some hang-ups. There are trouble spots or icy patches. It is better to plan how to deal with those now rather than later. Paul speaks to the weak and strong, but be careful how you define those terms. Lets begin by looking at a few of those verses:
12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. 13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. 14 I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. 16 Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.
5 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. 6 Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… 13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The terms weak and strong within chapter 14 and the first half of chapter 15 remind us of one of the struggles taking place in Paul’s day. In Rome you had two camps of Christmas. There was the Jew who was part of the chosen people of God. Most of the Jews kept the law from the Old Testament. It was sacred to them. It was important. The other group is the Gentiles. These were the new kids on the block. They weren’t raised with the law or the Old testament ways.
Paul’s reason for writing it is help those groups not struggle with each other. He is teaching them to not judge each other. Listen in for a minute. What we learn or will see in these verses is the fact that Christianity is not a system of laws to keep but a relationship that helps us love and be loved. Life is not based on what you have or haven’t done. Life is based on your worth found in who you are connected to. Connect to God.
Many Christians see life as a system of law, a checklist if you will of right and wrong. God is seeking a relationship with us as a loving father purses His children. He is one who will punish us for wrong, but that is out of love.
The scripture you read above are powerful verses. They are not the checklist but a measuring stick. Are we living a life defined by righteous living and pursing God above all else?
The choice is ours. We can either accept people and live a life that leads others to see and get to know God, or we can live a life that pushes people away from God. Living as a Jesus follower we will stop allowing differences to divide us from other people. We will find common ground through encouraging others and living truth. Aim at allowing Jesus to be our hope and give us confidence.
As we stop condemning and start accepting others God will changes lives. He will change us, and He will change others. I want to be a part of that!
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.