Romans 14

* The Jewish converts cautioned against judging, and Gentile

believers against despising one the other. (1-13) And the

Gentiles exhorted to take heed of giving offence in their use of

indifferent things. (14-23)

1-6 Differences of opinion prevailed even among the immediate

followers of Christ and their disciples. Nor did St. Paul

attempt to end them. Compelled assent to any doctrine, or

conformity to outward observances without being convinced, would

be hypocritical and of no avail. Attempts for producing absolute

oneness of mind among Christians would be useless. Let not

Christian fellowship be disturbed with strifes of words. It will

be good for us to ask ourselves, when tempted to disdain and

blame our brethren; Has not God owned them? and if he has, dare

I disown them? Let not the Christian who uses his liberty,

despise his weak brother as ignorant and superstitious. Let not

the scrupulous believer find fault with his brother, for God

accepted him, without regarding the distinctions of meats. We

usurp the place of God, when we take upon us thus to judge the

thoughts and intentions of others, which are out of our view.

The case as to the observance of days was much the same. Those

who knew that all these things were done away by Christ's

coming, took no notice of the festivals of the Jews. But it is

not enough that our consciences consent to what we do; it is

necessary that it be certified from the word of God. Take heed

of acting against a doubting conscience. We are all apt to make

our own views the standard of truth, to deem things certain

which to others appear doubtful. Thus Christians often despise

or condemn each other, about doubtful matters of no moment. A

thankful 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 must

agree not to live to themselves. No one who has given up his

name to Christ, is allowedly a self-seeker; that is against true

Christianity. The business of our lives is not to please

ourselves, but to please God. That is true Christianity, which

makes Christ all in all. Though Christians are of different

strength, capacities, and practices in lesser things, yet they

are all the Lord's; all are looking and serving, and approving

themselves to Christ. He is Lord of those that are living, to

rule them; of those that are dead, to revive them, and raise

them 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, would

silence rash judgings. Let every man search his own heart and

life; he that is strict in judging and humbling himself, will

not be apt to judge and despise his brother. We must take heed

of saying or doing things which may cause others to stumble or

to fall. The one signifies a lesser, the other a greater degree

of offence; that which may be an occasion of grief or of guilt

to our brother.
14-18 Christ deals gently with those who have true grace,

though they are weak in it. Consider the design of Christ's

death: also that drawing a soul to sin, threatens the

destruction of that soul. Did Christ deny himself for our

brethren, so as to die for them, and shall not we deny ourselves

for them, so as to keep from any indulgence? We cannot hinder

ungoverned tongues from speaking evil; but we must not give them

any occasion. We must deny ourselves in many cases what we may

lawfully do, when our doing it may hurt our good name. Our good

often comes to be evil spoken of, because we use lawful things

in an uncharitable and selfish manner. As we value the

reputation of the good we profess and practise, let us seek that

it may not be evil-spoken of. Righteousness, peace, and joy, are

words that mean a great deal. As to God, our great concern is to

appear before him justified by Christ's death, sanctified by the

Spirit of his grace; for the righteous Lord loveth

righteousness. As to our brethren, it is to live in peace, and

love, and charity with them; following peace with all men. As to

ourselves, it is joy in the Holy Ghost; that spiritual joy

wrought by the blessed Spirit in the hearts of believers, which

respects God as their reconciled Father, and heaven as their

expected home. Regard to Christ in doing our duties, alone can

make them acceptable. Those are most pleasing to God that are

best pleased with him; and they abound most in peace and joy in

the Holy Ghost. They are approved by wise and good men; and the

opinion of others is not to be regarded.
19-23 Many wish for peace, and talk loudly for it, who do not

follow the things that make for peace. Meekness, humility,

self-denial, and love, make for peace. We cannot edify one

another, while quarrelling and contending. Many, for meat and

drink, destroy the work of God in themselves; nothing more

destroys the soul than pampering and pleasing the flesh, and

fulfilling the lusts of it; so others are hurt, by wilful

offence given. Lawful things may be done unlawfully, by giving

offence to brethren. This takes in all indifferent things,

whereby a brother is drawn into sin or trouble; or has his

graces, his comforts, or his resolutions weakened. Hast thou

faith? It is meant of knowledge and clearness as to our

Christian liberty. Enjoy the comfort of it, but do not trouble

others by a wrong use of it. Nor may we act against a doubting

conscience. How excellent are the blessings of Christ's kingdom,

which consists not in outward rites and ceremonies, but in

righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost! How preferable

is the service of God to all other services! and in serving him

we 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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