“For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:7-8, NLT).
The Apostle Paul makes a plea for unity among the Roman Christians based on their individual and collective accountability to God.
Paul said we come from different backgrounds and are at different places in our walk with God. While some are more mature in their faith than others, no one should say or do anything that castigates the faith of another in Christ even though the brother or sister may be spiritually immature.
“I have done this so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11, HCSB).
Prior to this verse the Apostle Paul had just admonished the Corinthians to forgive the person among them who had sinned and caused them pain (vs. 5).
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Did you know that Jesus prayed for you when He walked the earth two thousand years ago? In John 17 Jesus prayed first for himself (vs. 1–5), then for his disciples (vs. 6–19), and then for later believers, which includes you and me (vs. 20–26). So what did Jesus pray for us? Of all the things Jesus might have prayed for us, He prayed for our unity (vs. 21–23) and that God’s love would be manifest through us (vs. 26). While it’s easy to understand why He would pray for God’s love for us, why unity when there are plenty of other needs to pray for us? When Jesus prayed for future believers, He prayed for those of us who believe in Him because of the message passed to each generation of believers from the apostles (vs. 20). The only way we could be believers of the the apostles’ message two thousand years later is because there is internal consistency to the message and among those proclaiming it. In other words, there is unity among those who believe and declare the message so that what is believed is the same as what is declared and vice versa. If there is not unity among Jesus’ believers, then we send mixed messages and nobody knows what to believe and either believe a lie or believe nothing at all about the gospel. Unity starts with each of us individually and is built on love for one another collectively. So that’s why Jesus prayed for you: “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (vs. 23).