“The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.“ (Romans 14:3-4, ESV).
The Book of Romans provides several theological discussions about Christian living. In the previous post in this series from Romans (see Corporeal Christianity), we learned that Christians should accept responsibility for their own spiritual growth and development through bible study, prayer, meditation and godliness.
Moms are generally scrupulous about the behavior of their children. They want their children to be well-behaved. As Christians we want to be well-behaved for God, but in Romans 14 the Apostle Paul establishes that Christians are not “Mom” over the behavior of other Christians.
Punctilious means to show great attention to detail or correct behavior, which is probably a good thing when you apply it to yourself. But, the Punctilious Christian of Romans 14 exhibits an unwarranted amount of attention and compunction for the correct behavior of other Christians!
The Punctilious Christian holds high standards for their own behavior. These high standards may be due to a sincere desire to please God and live for Him. “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God” (vs. 5-6).
But, high standards can sometimes be a defense mechanism for someone who is weak in faith and feels the need to prop up his or her faith with pointless rules and regulations purported to be God’s Law. This may be the case when one Christian tries to impose his or her personal convictions on other Christians. When you do that, Paul says you are passing judgment on them (vs. 10).
Not only are you passing judgment, Paul goes on to say you also may be causing other Christians to stumble in their faith (vs. 13). “So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil” (vs. 16). In other words, don’t let your self-imposed righteousness cause someone else to question the legitimacy of their faith.
The better way, Paul says, is to keep your punctiliousness to yourself: “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God“ (vs. 22).
The indwelling Holy Spirit is always your guide as to how you should live out God’s righteousness in your life: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit“ (vs. 17).
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2, ESV)