You and I, rather than putting stumbling stones in our brother and sister's way, we should be putting stepping stones in their way.
Stepping stones so they can mature, not stumbling stones so that they will fall and get tripped up, but we should lead them toward maturity. When we give our lives to Jesus, he changes our lives, priorities, and outlook. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares how you can live by the law of Christ's love that esteems others higher than yourself. Before we begin, we want to let you know about a resource that will help you unlock the riches and mysteries in God's Word. Is your personal Bible study time frustrating? Do you need direction? You can study the Bible with a plan and see progress.
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Get your copy of How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It by Skip Heitzig today when you give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Okay, we're in Romans chapter 14 as we join Skip Heitzig for today's study. Somebody once said that a man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. There are millions of tiny packages out there, people all wrapped up in themselves, in their own world, in their own rights, what's in it for me, don't you recognize who I am, all of that business.
A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. When it comes to the church, the body of Christ, a group of not perfect but redeemed people, and when it comes to dealing with one another, we ought to be willing to give up our rights, give up our status, to be able to provide unity in the church. I remember years ago, and I got a little clip of it for this evening, I remember reading a little piece by Karen Maines called The Brawling Bride. It was a parable, The Brawling Bride, and in this parable, it's at the most climactic part of the wedding ceremony, everybody is in place, families are all seated, the groom and the attendants are all waiting up in the front, the bridesmaids have come down the aisle, the minister's up front, Bible in hand, and then the song starts, and all the everybody stands, all the eyes look toward the back of the room where the bride is coming down the aisle, and when they see her, everyone lets out a gasp. Let's out a gasp, everyone in the crowd says, because the bride is limping, her gown is ripped, it's covered with mud, one of her eyes is purple and swollen, her hair's all messed up, and in this parable, the groom is Christ, the bride is the church. And Karen Maines, who writes this parable, The Brawling Bride, says toward the end of that, doesn't he deserve better than this? His bride, the church, has been fighting again. In chapter 14, the apostle Paul addresses how we get along with each other by preferring one another, even though we have knowledge that it's okay for us to get involved in certain activities that we would call gray areas.
It's not black, it's not white, it's not you shall do this or not do this, it has to do with days to worship, it has to do with dietary regulations. And somebody might say, well, I know better, and I have knowledge, I'm more educated, that's not a big deal. But not everybody has that knowledge, not everybody is as bright as you are. So what you need to do, being so awesome and mature, is to get involved in this tour and so far along in your faith and so highly educated in spiritual things. Knowing that, you need to mix that, temper that with love, because you're dealing with the bride, the bride of Christ. I found an alarming set of polls a while back, said 61% of the American public, that's about three out of five, says that the chief purpose of life is enjoyment and personal satisfaction. That's the chief end of life. That's why I'm here, that I might enjoy myself and find personal pleasure. Well, that didn't surprise me as much as the next part of the statistic, 50% of those who said they were born again Christian said the chief end of life is personal enjoyment and satisfaction.
Well, once again, a person wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. When you get that going in a church, it can be detrimental. So in chapter 14, Paul has said, none of us lives to himself or dies to himself, we live and die to the Lord for we are the Lord's. Now let's just pick it up in verse 12.
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. You and I, rather than putting stumbling stones in our brother and sister's way, we should be putting stepping stones in their way. Stepping stones so they can mature, not stumbling stones so that they will fall and get tripped up. But we should lead them toward maturity.
So how do we do that practically? Well, Paul will say the law of love. It is love that balances out your liberty in Christ and your knowledge of what you can and cannot do. You say, well, I have the freedom to do this or that or listen to that kind of music or get involved in these activities. Okay, fine. He will say, I'm glad you have that knowledge.
I'm glad you are persuaded. But keep in mind people who do not share your value system. Keep in mind there are what he calls the weaker brother, the weaker sister. They have their own scruples, their own sensitivities toward things.
We have to watch out for that. So if you have the freedom to listen to a certain kind of music, you appreciate it, you love the chord changes, you love the complications and the intricacies, and yet somebody else is over at your house and doesn't share the same appreciation for it, but even thinks that it's wrong for them as a believer to listen to that certain type of music, whatever it could be. If you go to your stereo and say, really? Well, listen to this.
Turn it all the way up to 10. Well, is that love? No, that's love for yourself.
That's a man wrapped up in himself, making himself a very small package. If you have the freedom, he will say to eat meat, have the diet, you can eat anything you want to. But that person says, oh, man, I have a problem. I'm a vegetarian. And not only that, but let's go back 2,000 years, the meat that you have in your table was sacrificed to an idol in the temple down the street. Well, then love would say, okay, I'll just put it away, then.
I won't do it. So you could go through a number of these kinds of activities, and he will say that liberty and knowledge must be balanced with love. I know, verse 14, I know that I have a problem with it. 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. Now, today there are no ceremonial dictates as to what you can and can't eat. There's nothing in the New Testament that says you can't have certain types of food.
There are no dietary restrictions for us New Testament believers as there were for the Jewish people in the Old Testament under the Old Covenant, under the law of Moses. Eating or not eating won't make you closer to God. It can give you heartburn if you eat it. It can make you fatter if you eat it.
It can make you unhealthy or healthy depending on what it is you eat. But it won't make you closer to God. So though you have knowledge and you are persuaded that certain things are okay, Paul again makes the case the law of love must prevail. And that's just not in Romans. It's also found in Corinthians we will see.
It's also found in Philippians. He will say, let nothing be done, Philippians chapter 2, let nothing be done with selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. I'm going to esteem you more important than my liberty at this point. I'm going to place your sensitivities as a higher value than what I have the freedom, what my rights are as a citizen to do. Let's go on.
I'll get to it. Therefore, do not, verse 16, let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. It's about being right with God, doing the right thing for each other. It's bringing peace among brothers and sisters.
It's spreading out the joy when we gather together. That's the kingdom of God. 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.
Now look at the first part of verse 20. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. The living Bible says don't undo the work of God for a chunk of meat. And you could translate that out.
You could extrapolate that out. Don't undo the work of God for a cigarette or a cigar. Don't undo the work of God for a beverage of your choice, an alcoholic beverage.
If you know somebody there is going to take offense to it and be stumbled by it, oh, but they're weaker people. I'm stronger. I'm more mature.
Okay, in your advanced maturity, add love to that. Why destroy the work of God for a chunk of meat? Think of God working in a person's life. Think how amazing that is, that the God of heaven and earth would work in a human being so that he might work through that human being. So he does a work. And the Bible says in Ephesians, for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. We're his workmanship. We're his palette. We're his work of art, one translation says.
We are his workmanship. So no one would, in their right mind, would think of taking a Rembrandt and defiling it. No one would walk up to a Rembrandt painting and go, you know, I'm gonna I'm gonna put a little stick man right here.
Watch this. Draw a little stick man, right? Right here in that Rembrandt picture. You'd be handcuffed and taken to jail and hauled before a court and nobody would think about doing that to a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh.
Or what if you decided to take a Stradivarius violin and say, I'm going to put electric guitar pickup on it. To deface and defile something that is that valuable as a work of art is incomprehensible. How much more so than to take a human being made in the image of God and take a piece of human being made in the image of God redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, a brother or sister on their way to heaven, in whom God is working his work in.
Don't destroy that just because you have rights and you have freedom. Don't destroy the work of God. Don't undo the work of God for a chunk of meat or 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. In this case, the rule of thumb is let your conscience be your guide.
Now be careful with that. I'm not saying that when it comes to all matters of faith let your conscience be your guide because your conscience can be wrong, can be warped, can deceive you. But when it comes to gray areas, not black and white issues, you can't say well you know when it comes to the deity of Christ my conscience is I don't care what your conscience is on that issue, frankly. But when it comes to eating meat or worshiping on certain days or certain types of music or your freedom to imbibe in a certain drink with your wife at a meal, that's up to you. Let your conscience be your guide and have faith and act in faith. But when there are other people observing you, that's where liberty and knowledge must be balanced with love.
So think of it this way. When a child is born into a home, everything in that home changes. Everyone in that house changes. Maybe you had the habit of leaving the scissors on the coffee table in the living room in times past.
Not anymore you don't. You put that away. You cover up light sockets. You nail things on the wall so they don't move as that baby turns into a toddler. And you put things away for the sake of love. Now as that child grows from toddlerhood to young childhood to adolescence, etc., you will ease those restrictions and give that person more responsibility. But at first you are considering the weakness of that tender child. And you're saying that life is vital.
It's important. I've I can't exercise the same kind of freedoms I had in the past. That's because you love them. Or imagine a child afraid of the dark. And mom says, sweetheart, it's time for you to go to bed.
And little Johnny goes, I can't go to bed. There's a monster in my room. Come on, there's no monster in your room. I have knowledge. I'm persuaded.
I know better than you do. I'm an adult. There's no monsters in your room.
There is. He's under the bed and in the closet. Now would a mother drag her son into the room say, go to bed?
Well, only a dumb one would. Anyone smart would turn on the light, open the closet, look under the door and say, the monster's gone. Must be in my room tonight. I'll take care of him. Okay, mommy, you take care of me. I'll take care of daddy.
I'll get him. Or she might say, daddy is him. I don't know.
But she will consider the weakness of the child and act in love. We then, verse one of chapter 15, we then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples, the sensitivities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. It's not about you. It's not about your rights. It's not about what you can do.
What about me? Let each of us please his neighbor for good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, the reproaching of the Lord did not please himself, but as it is written, the reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me. Here, Paul is quoting the 69th Psalm, a Messianic Psalm, a Psalm that predicts the suffering of the coming Messiah hundreds of years before Messiah was born. Psalm 69, a very notable Messianic Psalm.
So he is quoting that, the reproaches of you fell on me. The point he is making is that even Jesus, when he lived his life, didn't live his life with his own rights in mind, with his own, my own personal passion in life is, my own pursuit is, he lived knowing that there were others around him and he lived for others. In fact, he lived to please his father.
He said, I always do those things that please the father. It was Jesus who said, the son of man did not come to be served, the son of man came to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. Think of how Jesus pleased others, served others, how he would teach crowds long into the night, long into the evening. Sometimes he would be doing miracles and sometimes teaching and when his family came to see him, they realized he's not even taking time to eat. He was serving others, he was thinking about others, how he saw people with an infirmity and healed them, how at the last supper he washed his disciples feet, taking the role of a servant and then not only taking the role of a servant of the last supper, but he knew within a few hours, he would be dying on a cross. So he was the one suffering, he was the one who would suffer.
He was already feeling the brunt of that. He said, now my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow, he said to his disciples. And yet he is thinking of others at that last supper washing their feet. When they put him on a cross, think of the things he said on the cross. Father forgive them, they don't know what they're doing. To the thief, today you will be with me in paradise.
To his mother, mother receive your son and let John thought of his own mother being taken care of in the future. Which is noteworthy because anybody who has ever suffered physically knows that pain can be so all-consuming and turn your thoughts almost exclusively inward on yourself. It's hard for you to think about others when you're suffering, when you're in pain. So here is Jesus who would have every right to be totally consumed with his own trial, his own execution, but he's thinking of others.
The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me. Back in 1896, I don't expect any of you here to remember that, but back in 1896 an author wrote a book, became very famous, still as famous today though under another name. The book was called In His Steps. The author was Charles Sheldon and it was a story about a church, a group of believers who made a covenant with each other that for the next period of time, I think it may have been even a year but it was at least six months, they decided that they would covenant together as God's people that they wouldn't do anything, that they wouldn't make any decision, they wouldn't make any action without first filtering it through the thought, what would Jesus do? What would Jesus have me to do here? What would Jesus have me to do there?
It's called In His Steps. Now that spawned the what would Jesus do bracelet movement, you know, that were popular. Are they still around today? They still are.
They're coming back. Okay, so these things kind of recycle but that whole idea of what would Jesus do came from that and so Paul is thinking, think of what Jesus did. Think of what Jesus did and what Jesus would do when you're dealing with your brother and sister in some of these dicey situations, that you're not there to please yourself or exercise your own personal rights necessarily.
That's Skip Heite with a message from the series Expound Romans. Now, here's Skip to share how you can keep these messages coming your way to connect you and many others around the world with God's truths. Did you know that every day you're part of an invisible spiritual battle? But you can have absolute confidence knowing that Christ has already won the war.
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That number again is 800-922-1888. Or give online at connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Your support is vital to help connect more people like you to Christ.
So thank you for giving generously today. And did you know there's a great biblical resource available right at your fingertips through your mobile device? You can access several of Skip's Bible reading plans in the YouVersion Bible app and dive deeper into several books of the Bible to gain new insights. Just search Skip Heitzig in the YouVersion Bible app. Be sure to come back next week as Skip Heitzig shares how you are a vital part of Christ's Church that altogether glorifies the Lord. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast all burdens on his word. Make a connection, connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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