by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Romans 14:4-13
I. I started to drive home the other night and the radio happened to be tuned to the show of a commentator whom I really can’t stand. He has a nasally, whiny voice that gets on my nerves, but the irritation is nothing compared to his views.
A. Before I could switch the station, I heard him saying, with a tone of incredibility, “We actually have people in this country who actually think the world is only 6,000 years old! We actually have people in this country who actually pray to a God!”
B. That was as much as I heard, but as I continued to drive, it struck me that this person had come to the conclusion that if you hold a belief different from his own, then you must have arrived at it through ignorance.
C. After all, if you were as educated as me, then we would believe the same.
II. Unwise Comparisons
A. It is easy to fall into the trap that what we know must be right
B. Comparing others to self is not wise - II Corinthians 10:12
1. Why? The standard is not fixed. What each person thinks is right differs.
2. It is a form of pride - Romans 12:16
3. Romans 11:25 - Leads to blindness because nothing is checked
4. It puts a human in place of a divine standard - Proverbs 3:7
5. Proverbs 26:12 - A fool is better
C. This is the fault of the Pharisee - Luke 18:11-14
1. You can always find someone who is worse than you, but does that make you a better person?
2. You can always find something that you did was good, but does that mean you are truly good?
3. You see, the publican appealed to God, attempting to see himself as God would see him
III. Speaking evil of what you don’t know
A. A similar trap is to assume that what we know is the sum total of what needs to be known
B. The case of Michael - Jude 8-10
1. If there is a being condemned by his very actions, it is Satan
2. But Michael rightly would not put himself in God’s judgment seat
3. After all, who of us can say we have all the facts?
C. It is a form of pride and self-will - II Peter 2:10-12
D. Fair, accurate judgment comes when the facts are all present - I Corinthians 4:5-6
E. This is the reason for God’s condemnation of Job - Job 38:1-2
1. He decided without knowing all the facts.
F. A person came to me with a complaint about a fellow brother
1. I started asking some pertinent questions about the situation. Was he aware of this fact and that fact.
2. Sadly, he kept answering, “I didn’t know.” Sad because his lack of knowledge didn’t keep him from condemning a brother in Christ.
IV. Judging God’s servants
A. Jesus warned against making wrong judgments - Matthew 7:1-5
1. It is not that decisions cannot be made, but the warning is that the same standards will be applied to you.
2. The example is condemning someone of a small problem when you have a greater one. Your condemnation shows your understanding of right and wrong. By condemning another you are condemning yourself.
3. Consider this, if you measure others by yourself, how do you think you would measure up to your own standards? Most of us would still fail the test - Romans 2:1
B. Do not speak evil of brethren - James 4:11-12
1. The key to this passage is to see that the standard for judgment is not God’s law
2. The decision is made contrary to what God has said, thus placing the one making the judgment in the seat of God ruling on what God has said.
3. Condemning another is an extremely serious matter.
a. To make such decisions based on what I think is to put my opinions above God
b. I’ve seen decisions made without appeal to God’s word. When asked, the sad response was “I’ll have to get back to you later.”
c. Could a verse be found to justify? Sure. People find verses to support their pre-made decision all the time.
(1) But was it an accurate call?
(2) Did God’s word lead, or personal opinion?
C. Think about the case of Nabal
1. He made a judgment about David without full knowledge - I Samuel 25:10
2. As his wife later said, he was a fool - I Samuel 25:25
3. He condemned a man who had been protecting his flocks without being asked and without pay. He assumed that David was a run away servant.
D. Paul talks at length about this in Romans 14
1. Do not judge God’s servant - Romans 14:4
a. It doesn’t matter what you or I think. It is God’s decision.
2. There can be sincere differences in conclusions - Romans 14:5
3. The only judge is Christ - Romans 14:10
a. Therefore the only standard can be Christ’s words
b. Ultimately, each must give a personal account to God - Romans 14:12
4. What is forgotten is that our aim is to get people to heaven, not to get people to conform to our personal beliefs - Romans 14:13
5. Don’t cause offense - Romans 14:20-21
6. Have faith in the things you do that are approved by God - Romans 14:22
7. Don’t violate your conscience - Romans 14:23
E. I was once told that something needed to be done because another sister chose to wear a covering during service. When I pointed out that people do learn and at times change their minds about matters, the point was scoffed at. “They’re doing it because they’re ignorant about the Scriptures.”
1. This is the very thing that God warns us not to do.
2. How can you come to the conclusion that a decision was made out of ignorance of all things? Especially in this case I happen to know that the point was never discussed.
3. I find it particularly sad because the choice is an individual’s. It didn’t impact anyone else.
V. Put away evil speaking - Ephesians 4:31; I Peter 2:1
A. Because someone’s conclusion is different from yours, it doesn’t mean they are wrong, blind, or ignorant.
B. I know ladies who will only wear dresses – never pants. It is not my understanding, but it is theirs.
1. The fact that they wear dresses doesn’t impact me. They are modestly dressed and that is what is important.
2. Though my wife wears slacks at times, they get along very well.
3. And that is as it should be.
C. We are not here to tear people done. We are here to build people up.
D. Don’t assume that a difference between you and a brother is due to a weakness in your brother
E. Romans 14:4