Romans 14* The Jewish converts cautioned against judging, and Gentilebelievers against despising one the other. (1-13) And theGentiles exhorted to take heed of giving offence in their use ofindifferent things. (14-23)1-6 Differences of opinion prevailed even among the immediatefollowers of Christ and their disciples. Nor did St. Paulattempt to end them. Compelled assent to any doctrine, orconformity to outward observances without being convinced, wouldbe hypocritical and of no avail. Attempts for producing absoluteoneness of mind among Christians would be useless. Let notChristian fellowship be disturbed with strifes of words. It willbe good for us to ask ourselves, when tempted to disdain andblame our brethren; Has not God owned them? and if he has, dareI disown them? Let not the Christian who uses his liberty,despise his weak brother as ignorant and superstitious. Let notthe scrupulous believer find fault with his brother, for Godaccepted him, without regarding the distinctions of meats. Weusurp the place of God, when we take upon us thus to judge thethoughts and intentions of others, which are out of our view.The case as to the observance of days was much the same. Thosewho knew that all these things were done away by Christ'scoming, took no notice of the festivals of the Jews. But it isnot enough that our consciences consent to what we do; it isnecessary that it be certified from the word of God. Take heedof acting against a doubting conscience. We are all apt to makeour own views the standard of truth, to deem things certainwhich to others appear doubtful. Thus Christians often despiseor condemn each other, about doubtful matters of no moment. Athankful regard to God, the Author and Giver of all our mercies,sanctifies and sweetens them. 7-13 Though some are weak, and others are strong, yet all mustagree not to live to themselves. No one who has given up hisname to Christ, is allowedly a self-seeker; that is against trueChristianity. The business of our lives is not to pleaseourselves, but to please God. That is true Christianity, whichmakes Christ all in all. Though Christians are of differentstrength, capacities, and practices in lesser things, yet theyare all the Lord's; all are looking and serving, and approvingthemselves to Christ. He is Lord of those that are living, torule them; of those that are dead, to revive them, and raisethem up. Christians should not judge or despise one another,because both the one and the other must shortly give an account.A believing regard to the judgment of the great day, wouldsilence rash judgings. Let every man search his own heart andlife; he that is strict in judging and humbling himself, willnot be apt to judge and despise his brother. We must take heedof saying or doing things which may cause others to stumble orto fall. The one signifies a lesser, the other a greater degreeof offence; that which may be an occasion of grief or of guiltto our brother. 14-18 Christ deals gently with those who have true grace,though they are weak in it. Consider the design of Christ'sdeath: also that drawing a soul to sin, threatens thedestruction of that soul. Did Christ deny himself for ourbrethren, so as to die for them, and shall not we deny ourselvesfor them, so as to keep from any indulgence? We cannot hinderungoverned tongues from speaking evil; but we must not give themany occasion. We must deny ourselves in many cases what we maylawfully do, when our doing it may hurt our good name. Our goodoften comes to be evil spoken of, because we use lawful thingsin an uncharitable and selfish manner. As we value thereputation of the good we profess and practise, let us seek thatit may not be evil-spoken of. Righteousness, peace, and joy, arewords that mean a great deal. As to God, our great concern is toappear before him justified by Christ's death, sanctified by theSpirit of his grace; for the righteous Lord lovethrighteousness. As to our brethren, it is to live in peace, andlove, and charity with them; following peace with all men. As toourselves, it is joy in the Holy Ghost; that spiritual joywrought by the blessed Spirit in the hearts of believers, whichrespects God as their reconciled Father, and heaven as theirexpected home. Regard to Christ in doing our duties, alone canmake them acceptable. Those are most pleasing to God that arebest pleased with him; and they abound most in peace and joy inthe Holy Ghost. They are approved by wise and good men; and theopinion of others is not to be regarded. 19-23 Many wish for peace, and talk loudly for it, who do notfollow the things that make for peace. Meekness, humility,self-denial, and love, make for peace. We cannot edify oneanother, while quarrelling and contending. Many, for meat anddrink, destroy the work of God in themselves; nothing moredestroys the soul than pampering and pleasing the flesh, andfulfilling the lusts of it; so others are hurt, by wilfuloffence given. Lawful things may be done unlawfully, by givingoffence to brethren. This takes in all indifferent things,whereby a brother is drawn into sin or trouble; or has hisgraces, his comforts, or his resolutions weakened. Hast thoufaith? It is meant of knowledge and clearness as to ourChristian liberty. Enjoy the comfort of it, but do not troubleothers by a wrong use of it. Nor may we act against a doubtingconscience. How excellent are the blessings of Christ's kingdom,which consists not in outward rites and ceremonies, but inrighteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost! How preferableis the service of God to all other services! and in serving himwe are not called to live and die to ourselves, but unto Christ,whose we are, and whom we ought to serve.
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