Sunday, March 4, 2018

That He Might Be Lord

In the fourteenth chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, the apostle addresses a problem that had arisen in the church. In so doing he states truths that are both universal and applicable to many situations in life.

He begins the chapter by saying, “don’t criticize” (v. 1), words that many of us need to hear. In fact, Paul feels so strongly about this matter that he repeats it several times (vv. 3, 4, 10, and 13). Of course there is a place for constructive criticism. But it is the negative faultfinding criticism that Paul condemns since it only results in disunity and sorrow and grieves the Holy Spirit.

Another matter Paul touches on is the importance of thinking things through (v. 5). God has given man a mind with which to think and reason. The mind of the Christian is being sanctified. It is therefore imperative that he uses his sanctified common sense as he considers the various aspects of Christian faith and practice. This is certainly not a carte blanche that entitles a man to come to his own conclusions. It is rather an appeal to base his convictions on the fact that he is “in Christ” and guided by the Spirit and the Word.

It seems natural for Paul as he deals with men judging other men to think on the One who has any right to judge others. Thus, he introduces the important matter of the judgment seat of Christ (v. 10). Each believer will give an account of how he has lived his Christian life and used the gifts God has given him. On that day not only will we be called upon to give an account of every idle word spoken, but also every harsh word of criticism.

It would be unlike Paul if he dealt with any problem in the church without focusing on the royal law of love. He appeals to both the “strong” and the “weak” to exercise love one toward the other. This is indeed the hallmark of the Christian. How it was needed in Paul’s day—and how greatly it is needed today.

The apostle touches the very heart of the problem under discussion when he states one of the great purposes for which Christ died—“For this very reason Christ died and returned to life so that He might be Lord …” (v. 9). He is the One whom we should desire to please. His will, not ours or anyone else’s, should be our chief concern. Can we honestly and humbly say, “Jesus Christ is Lord of my life?