The Burdening of the Brethren

Romans 14:1-13
“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written:“As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”

One of my closest friends and I have been discussing an unfortunate reality in the church: the burdening of each other by the laying of conviction and evaluation upon one-another regarding our righteousness. In other words, we (Christians) constantly judge each other regarding our walks with Christ.

Obviously, this has been going on since the church started because Paul addresses it. We (Christians) must always remind ourselves of what Jesus once said: “Each day has enough trouble of its own…” (Matthew 6:34). So we need to be aware, as Paul says above, “not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” Paul makes the point that since we (Christians) are in Christ, we are considered righteous by God, yet, the righteous are evaluating each other’s righteousness! Paul is basically asking us rhetorically: Why are we inflicting conviction and evaluation on each other regarding our walks when Christ has made us righteous?

It’s really stupid when you think about it. I mean, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13), indwelled by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16), and held by both the Father and Son where nothing in creation can separate us from the love of God (John 10:27-29). Yet, we still judge each other as though such assurance is not true. We burden each other by pressuring each other into doing, in order to be more righteous. But our walk is not about what we think others should do. It’s about who God is, and what He has done. It’s a clever trick by the devil to deceive us into monitoring each other according to personal convictions.

Paul then goes on:

Romans 14:14-15:7
“I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.”

“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” How beautiful is that? Paul is pleading with us to drop our personal evaluations of each other, which are unnecessary, because Christ has redeemed us… “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” We are to edify each other, so that we may have hope. Not judge each other, and cause inconfidence in our assurance. Such is a cancer in the church, and it must be dealt with by building one-another up with the constant reminder of who God is, and what He has done.

May we stop burdening, but edifying, so that we may have hope.

Godspeed, to the brethren!