Romans 14: Harmony in Diversity

This entry is part 133 of 137 in the series 365 Key Chapters of the Bible

Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans to a diverse audience. Consisting of both Jews and Gentiles, his audience had differing views on religious practices—they did not agree on the nonessentials.

Romans 14 addresses the way we ought to behave when faced with such a situation in our own lives.

Fellowship with One Another

If we believe in Christ Jesus, then He calls us to abide in Him. When we do so, our practice ought to conform more and more to our position in Him. This especially comes into play when it comes to the church, His Body.

It is easy for the church to become divided over nonessential matters—for example, consider how many people leave a church because of the style of music! In more theological matters, churches also disagree over eschatology or spiritual gifts. While we do not need to agree on these things, we still need to be unified.

Harmony in Diversity

Having harmony in the midst of diversity involves walking in love, making sure not to elevate a nonessential doctrine above the practice of Christian charity. Many people become tripped up in the area of nonessentials. In Paul’s time, some of his audience struggled with whether or not they were allowed to eat meat. They did not understand that the old restrictions had been set aside.

Instead of condemning these people, Paul exhorts believers to love one another. They are not to judge one another, but are to live with a clear conscience before God (Romans 14:4). Part of living with a clear conscience involves not causing a brother or sister in Christ to stumble (Romans 14:21). As one example, if a fellow believer in Christ believes that drinking alcohol is wrong, then do not cause them to stumble if you do drink alcohol—don’t try to change their conviction, but acknowledge their viewpoint. Likewise, if you do not drink alcohol, then do not judge the one who does.

The Reason for Harmony

In morally indifferent matters—in other words, in nonessentials—each believer should have the honor and glory of God in view. A believer who acts according to conscience (so long as it is in accordance with Scripture) ultimately acts in service to God. What we do in each area of our life is doxological. God has left room for that to differ from person to person.

This teaching is based on Ken’s Handbook to Scripture

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