Where will you go next? I’m headed to Jude. It’s only one chapter. Go with me and we’ll finish in one day. I’ve finished my reading of Romans, but I’m behind on my writing. Stay tuned here to finish Romans with me and check out Jude next!
Here’s how this works.
Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, & Prayer.
Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.
There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.
Romans 14:1-3, “Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them.”
Before we get to the serious part of my thoughts I have to point out the twisted delight I find these verses. Don’t they basically say that people who like vegetables have a weak faith!? That’s encouraging for one who NEVER eats them!
Seriously – this passage could be confusing. It seems to say that sin is measured by what you would call sin. In other words, be true to yourself. If you think it’s sinful, it is. If you don’t think it’s sinful it’s probably not. But that’s not really what it’s saying at all.
This passage isn’t about how we evaluate sin. It’s about how we evaluate one another.
As we manage our lives and our organizations we encounter CORE VALUES, FAMILY VALUES, and PREFERENCES.
Core Values are those non-negotiable beliefs and behaviors that define who we are and why we do what we do. Core Value Examples for Believers:
- Jesus is Messiah, salvation comes through Jesus by grace alone through faith alone.
- The Bible is the Word of God. It’s accurate and reliable.
- The Trinity is real. God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirt are all God, three-in-one.
- There are also lists of sins that fall into Core Values, behaviors we should or shouldn’t pursue; Honor your father and mother, don’t steal, lie, murder, or live in sexual immorality.
Family Values are those family rules that change from one family, one organization, even one generation to the next. In my house bedtime for my kids is around 8:30. In your house it may be 7:30 or 9:30. It’s not right or wrong, it’s how we do things in this house.
Preferences are how I like to do things. I prefer the house a little cold. My wife prefers it a little hot. My brother’s a little bit country. I’m a little bit rock and roll. Again – preferences are not about right or wrong. They are about how I like things done.
We’re not satisfied to let CORE VALUES be our set of non-negotiable beliefs and behaviors. We have within us this natural tendency to try to force our family values and preferences onto everyone else. If you don’t do it my way you’re wrong. If you don’t it my way your in sin.
Romans 14 tells us that how we relate to one another is important. It tells us how we should handle preferences and family values. If it’s not clearly defined in Scripture as a core value then we shouldn’t condem someone because they do things differently than we do. We shouldn’t consider ourselves more righteous because our way is ‘better’. But there’s more.
This passage seems to say, out of respect, the more liberal viewpoint should submit to the more conservative. If it’s okay for you (the more liberal viewpoint) but your brother thinks it’s wrong (the more conservative view) out of respect for the views of one another the more liberal viewpoint should relent to the more conservative.
It doesn’t mean you give up your beliefs. It means you practice them privately. It doesn’t mean you don’t have conversations about it. It means you have the right kinds of conversations at the right time and in the right way. You persuade without condemnation or temptation. You convince through love rather than judgement.
Alcohol is one of those issues in our church. The Bible say, “Don’t be drunk with wine.” Some in our church interpret that to mean DON’T DRINK EVER. Other’s interpret that to mean they can take a drink every now and then as long as they drink responsibly. Because the people of my church are respectful of one another and mindful of passages just like this it’s led to great conversations without condemnation.
Those who take a drink every now and then do it privately. Those who are t-totalers stick to their sodas. One is not tempted, the other not condemned, all serve together around the CORE VALUES of who we are as Believers.
Today – what are my core values? What family values or preferences do I spend too much time arguing about or condemning others over? What family values or preferences do I have that need to change? Am I living FREE or am I still in bondage to some older mindset that keeps me tied up?
Thank you, Father, for not making salvation about a list of do’s and don’t’s. Thank you for saving me from all my sin and for clearly defining the core values of what matters most. Today, help me identify my family values and preferences. Give me the wisdom to discern right from wrong, the patience to have great conversations with people who disagree with me and the maturity to adjust my life to match your word when I’m wrong. I can learn from others. They can learn from. Help us to listen to, learn from and love one another – especially when we disagree.
I love you, in Jesus name –