Romans 14: Practical Advice for Maintaining Harmony in the Christian Community
Chapter 14 is about how Christians treat each other within their community of faith. In this chapter, Paul is addressing the very real human tendency to judge or criticize others, even among fellow believers.
In verse 1, he indicates that we are to welcome those of weaker faith than our own (as Christ would), for it is in the Christian community that such individuals will grow to their full faith maturity.
Often our differences (even with other believers) are over nonessential elements of the faith. Paul refers to these nonessential elements as “disputable matters” and gives as an example throughout the chapter the differing views and habits related to what Christians eat or drink.
How easy it is for all of us to criticize, condemn and complain about the behavior of others, not only within our Christian community, but even within our own families.
To maintain harmony within the Christian community, we need to welcome others with differing convictions. We need to avoid judging others and rather leave such judgment to the Lord, as all will give an account of themselves to God. At all costs, we are to pursue peaceful interactions that will be mutually edifying.
A Moment to Reflect:
Even in the 21st century, I’m sure all of us have faced situations in churches we have attended in which interpersonal relationships were at a low point and criticism and condemnation ran rampant.
Think about your own church experiences, and as you read chapter 14, imagine that this letter was written to you and your fellow congregants. As you think about this, isn’t it clear that Paul is wisely expressing something that all Christian communities should hear, understand and comply with? Because this is such a prevalent issue, I encourage you to pray that God will soften hearts (including yours) within your faith community.