Using Romans 14:1-7 as my text, I want to talk about some principles of conduct for Christians in questionable matters. If we had time to really dig in, we would find that Paul basically gives three guidelines. 1. Conviction – Looking forward. 2. Conscience – Looking in. 3. Consideration – Looking out. In other words, Conviction anticipates, Conscience meditates and Consideration hesitates. I believe that conviction, conscience, and consideration should govern how and why we do what we do.
This reminds me of the Tate Family, "Do you know how many members of the Tate family belong to your church? There is old man DicTate, who wants to run everything, while Uncle RoTate tries to change everything. Their sister AgiTate stirs up plenty of trouble, with help from her husband, IrriTate. Their son DebiliTate is often a bad influence on other children. Whenever new projects are suggested, HesiTate, and his wife, VegeTate, want to wait until next year. DisorienTate has never quite figured out what is going on. Grandpa DisserTate will talk on and on about most any subject when given a chance. GesTate takes a long time to come to conclusions on new ideas. Then there is Aunt ImiTate, who wants our church to be like all the others. DevasTate provides the voice of doom. And of course, there are the black sheep of the family, FragmenTate seems to always be stirring up division, AposTate has formed his own following and AmpuTate has cut himself off from the Church!
Today we have two extremes about Christian conduct in questionable matters; no separation and total separation. This second group is the ones that Paul labels weak in the faith in this chapter. We must learn to balance Christian freedom and Christian responsibility. I submit ten principles for balance in each of our lives.
1. We should not be judgmental in disputable or gray areas (14:1–9).
2. We should be convinced in our own mind as to the rightness or wrongness of an action (14:5).
However we must keep in mind 1 Cor. 6:12 which says, "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient…"
3. We must realize that we all will stand ultimately before God and give an account (14:10).
Hebrews 4:13, "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
4. We must not put a stumbling block in the way of our brothers (14:13).
I Cor. 8:12 "But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ."
Matthew 18:6 "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
5. We must always act in love (14:15).
Galations 5:22a "But the fruit of the Spirit is love…"
6. We must pursue actions which promote peace (14:19).
7. We must seek to edify others by our actions (14:19).
I Corinthians 14:12 "Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification (building up) of the church that you seek to excel."
1Co 10:24-25 "Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. (25) Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience' sake;"
8. We must do only that which can be done in faith (14:22-23).
Romans 1:17 "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
9. We seek to glorify God in all that we do and say (15:6).
10. We must always love one another, even when we disagree (15:7).