Guard Your Actions       February 05, 2006       Romans 14:13-23

 
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Introduction

    All of us know of a church fellowship destroyed because members could not get along. In the text we are given several prohibitions related to conduct within the family of God. In verse 13 we are told not to cause a stumbling block, in verse 15 we are told not to harm or grieve a fellow Christian, and not to destroy a fellow believer. In verse 16 we are cautioned not to let our actions destroy our witness, and in verse 20 not to tear down God’s work. The title, Guard Your Actions, is very appropriate.

1.    Guard Your Actions In A . . CONVINCED Manner. 14:13-14
        13 Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another, but instead decide not to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way. 14 (I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself. Still, to someone who considers a thing to be unclean, to that one it is unclean.)

    A.    CONVINCED IN OUR . . RESOLVE. 14:13

        1.     Resolved Not To . . Judge. v 13 a
            13 Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another, . . .”

        2.    Resolved Not To Cause One To . . Stumble. 14:13 b
            “. . . but instead decide not to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way.

    B.    CONVINCED IN OUR . . RECOGNITION.  14:14

        1.    Recognition of what is clean. 14:14 a

            14 (I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself.

        2.    Recognition of what is unclean. 14:14 b

            “Still, to someone who considers a thing to be unclean, to that one it is unclean.)

            Every Christian ought to guard their actions with a convinced mindset. There needs to be a resolve to refrain from judging, while recognizing the example of Jesus. We need to leave room for the different convictions Christians might practice, and respect these differences. We can appreciate the convictions different Christians, and cultures practice. However to insist on our preferences to the detriment of a younger or less mature Christian does not show proper appreciation for a Christian with different convictions. It is possible for one Christian to believe an action is wrong while another sees nothing wrong with it. Our freedoms need to respect others’ persuasions.
 

2.    Guard Your Actions In A . . CONSTRUCTIVE Manner.  14:15-18

    15 For if your brother is hurt by what you eat, you are no longer walking according to love. By what you eat, do not destroy that one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore, do not let your good be slandered, 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever serves the Messiah in this way is acceptable to God and approved by men.

    A.    Constructive Without . . Grief.  14:15

        1.    Grief concerning matters of . . Food.  v 15 a

            15 For if your brother is hurt by what you eat, you are no longer walking according to love.

        2.    Grief concerning matters of . . Fondness.  v 15 b

            “. . . By what you eat, do not destroy that one for whom Christ died.”

                    a.    It all comes back to love.

    B.    Constructive Without . . Guilt.  14:16-17

            1.    Concerning . . Goodness.  v 16

                16 Therefore, do not let your good be slandered,

            2.    Concerning . . Godliness.  v 17

                17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

    C.    Constructive With . . Graciousness.  14:18

            1.    Before God.  v 18 a

                18 Whoever serves the Messiah in this way is acceptable to God. . .”

            2.    Before Men.  v 18 b

                “. . .and approved by men.”

                Christians need to develop constructive plans of relating to their brothers and sisters in Christ. These plans must be without grief and guilt while producing graciousness. Do you not have grief over actions that actually cause a new or young Christian to be destroyed? The Greek word destruction means “loss, not of being, but of well-being." The person is lost to a productive relationship to the fellowship because of someone’s personal agenda, rather than a Christ-like agenda. That is not gracious. The kingdom of God is summed up in verse 18 as it speaks of a servant of Christ, acceptable to God, and approved by men.
 

3.    Guard Your Actions In A . . CALM Manner.  14:19-21
        19 So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. 20 Do not tear down God's work because of food. Everything is clean, but it is wrong for a man to cause stumbling by what he eats. 21 It is a  noble thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother stumble. 22 Do you have faith? Keep it to yourself before God.  Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.  23 But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin.

    A.    A Calmness that Does . . Create. v 19

        19 So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.

    B.    A Calmness that Does Not . . Cancel. v 20{20} 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.

    C.    A Calmness that Does Not . . Condemn.  v 22-23

{21} <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. 22 Do you have faith? Keep it to yourself before God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin.

        Our actions need to be guarded with a calmness led by the Holy Spirit. This calmness can create peace while not destroying or canceling the work of God. Once again the word, “destroy” seems to be a very strong word, but bad attitudes, and insisting on personal preferences can destroy the influence of a Christian and a church. On one occasion I was out helping a church survey a neighborhood for a possible church start. At one home a lady asked what church initiated the survey, and when I told her she said, “I would never be a part of anything that church does, they are a disgrace to the name Baptist.” She based all of her thoughts on actions performed years earlier. We can remain calm with our liberties in Christ, and at the same time refrain from that which would condemn a fellow believer. We do this by walking in faith, with a challenge to Guard Your Actions. Amen? Amen!