2 Chronicles 29: 1-36
The story today reminded me of one of those sequences in movies where the ugly girl gets a makeover, or the underdog army pulls together to overcome. These bedraggled Jews pull themselves together to reopen the formerly closed Temple. Also, I have decided the Chronicler is an eternal optimist. He really makes me believe with every story that things are going to turn around and people are going to stay in fellowship with God. However, we have inside knowledge from Debbie Downer who wrote 1st and 2nd Kings. But in this shining moment they have pulled together and rejoiced because of what God had done for the people. In this moment they were trying to honor God.
Romans 14: 1-23
So yesterday we learned that we take our transformed life and submit to governing authorities. Today we learn that we are free to take our freedom’s and submit them to other believers to build each other up. Paul is not talking about believers doing illegal things here so don’t show up to church on Sunday and start passing around weed and telling people you feel “convicted” that you are free to smoke weed and we should too. (if you live in TX, where it is still illegal.) That is not the context. Paul is writing to people who feel weird eating meat that had been sacrificed and “offered” to fake gods. His purpose is to clarify that whether to eat the meat or not is not a black or white issue. Pharisee’s want black or white rules, followers of Jesus realize every decision is made inside the context of relationships.
As our minds are transformed, we get to start using our conscience again to guide us. The Holy Spirit will use this to convict us of sin and unrighteousness. Everyone is at a different spot in the transformation and will be more sensitive or less sensitive to different things. The big point is in verse 23. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions if you do anything you believe is not right you are sinning. In Paul’s example the big issue is if you are eating with a believer who feels convicted that they should not partake in the meat and you do; and not only that but you make them feel bad about abstaining; you have caused that person to sin, and you are sinning for leading them to do something they felt conviction over. Today this would look like you are going out to dinner with other believers and you feel the freedom to have a glass of wine, but the people you are eating with don’t. You should be mature enough to abstained for that one meal from drinking. And you really should be mature enough not shame them into drinking when they are convicted that they should not.
Paul says, we are all just trying to honor God and our desire should be to live in harmony. When there is an issue there should be discussion and words used like, “I feel free to do this but please tell me your convictions on it because I want to honor them.” Again, this is talking about preferences not non-negotiables. (Non-negotiables would be anything that adds to or takes away from the Gospel.)