Listen And Obey
If you have a conscience on a matter, follow what you feel to be your particular duty.
Alright, thank you very much and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Hey, it’s so great to be back with you. I look forward to these times of fellowship around the Word of God like a missionary that looks forward to furlough. I tell you it’s just such a blessed thrill and joy and relaxation to me. I can’t begin to describe how much it means to be with you for these few moments around the Word of God. Thanks for being there. We’re in Romans the 14th chapter and Paul has been saying in verse 13, “Let us not therefore judge one another any more but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”
My concern about the other person is not to evaluate what he’s doing right or wrong so much as it is to evaluate what I’m doing to help him do better. Do you see the difference in point of view there? I think it’s a very important distinction that Paul makes. For the most part, we look at other people objectively bringing to our observation our own personal biases, surely. You’ve heard your grandmother say “Never trust a man with a moustache,” for example, or you’ve heard your grandfather say “A man with a sloping forehead is very smart but not to be trusted.” Have you heard that?
Well, you know, these are oldwives’ tales that persist down through the years. And so our observation of other people is apt to be colored by our own biases plus the fact that we arrogate to ourselves the privilege of saying that what they say and do is either good, bad, or indifferent. And so, our conduct comes under the heading of “judge one another.” Now Paul has just been pointing out that it really is folly to do this because other people are as responsible to God as you and I are. “To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up for God is able to make him stand,” says Paul.
“Why then dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Each of us is equally responsible to God and each of us will be subjected to a divine evaluation at the judgment seat of Christ. So Paul says there isn’t any future in spending your time judging another person or putting him down. These words “set at nought” means “put him down, criticize him in terms of a derogatory estimate of his or her value.” You follow me?
Instead, says he, instead of an evaluation of the other person’s words and deeds bringing to it your own biases and your own prejudices and your own likes and dislikes, instead of doing that, specialize on judging what you are doing to help the other person do better. What am I doing to encourage and what am I doing to strengthen and what am I doing to smooth out the way or, on the other hand, am I saying and doing things that would cause another person to stumble and make progress in the Christian life more difficult for them?
Am I doing things that cause them to say, “If that’s a Christian, I don’t want any.” See, these are the embarrassing questions that you and I need to learn to ask before someone else asks them of us. Paul says in I Corinthians 11 “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, then we are condemned with the rest of the crowd.” And so it’s a very good idea, isn’t it, to ask these self evaluative questions before other people get around to asking them of you.
“What am I doing that will help or encourage or strengthen or smooth out the way or add dynamic power to somebody else’s life? Or on the other hand, am I doing and saying things that make it more difficult for them to accept Christ and to live for Him?” “Judge this rather,” said he, “that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” Carelessness, even just plain carelessness, in the Christian life that make it more difficult for them to accept Christ and to live for Him.
“Judge this rather,” said he, “that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” Carelessness even just plain carelessness in the Christian life can cost you an effective testimony. I had very few friends when I went to high school back in Toledo, Ohio. But there was one young man who befriended me and with whom I spent considerable time. He came from a non-believing family. His father was a rough hewn, sort of a diamond in a rough kind of a person, a good and well-intentioned man but thoroughly without any faith at all in God or in Christ.
The children grew up then in that atmosphere and my friend, although a very fine young man with a gentle spirit, and I liked him because he liked me, obviously, and we became good friends and sort of palled around together. And yet he had no evidence, really, of Christian faith. I finished high school and went off to the Moody Bible Institute. I recall coming back after a year or so on a vacation. And immediately, then, I looked up my high school chum. He greeted me with joy and he said, “Bob, I’ve been saved. I went to such and such a meeting,” and he said, “I opened my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ and I’m a Christian.”
“Oh,” I said, “that’s great. That’s wonderful.” Then I opened my mouth and put my foot in it, as we say. I then remarked to him, “You know, I wondered during our high school days why it was that you never trusted Christ.” He looked me right in the eye and he says, “Well, Bob, I guess it may have been because you weren’t all that active a Christian yourself.” Ooh, that hurt. Now, I wasn’t robbing any banks. I was playing in the church orchestra and I was going to young people society and I was being as good as I knew how and getting reasonably good grades and working after school and keeping house for my father at chief cook and bottle washer.
So it was a busy and I would think, as I look back, quite respectable life for a young person. But I wasn’t doing very much witnessing for Christ. And the words I never said to that young man as we were palling around together, riding our bikes here and there, going to a game or whatever, I never said to him, “You know, I wish you’d trust Christ to save you.” I never did. That remained for someone else to win him to Christ. And so when I ventured to say I wondered why he had not trusted the Lord earlier, he simply looked at me, “Well, you weren’t so hot either.”
My job and yours, dear friend, is not so much to evaluate the other person as to make sure that our life and our conduct is making it easier for people to trust Christ. Specialize in encouragement. Look around for somebody to encourage today. If you see somebody that looks real nice, tell them so. They have spent an extra few minutes in trying to look real respectable, real sharp, and you tell them so. If somebody does a good job on a program or in an advertising piece or whatever it may be, tell them so. Look for ways to encourage people. If you find somebody who’s just about to give up on something, encourage them to hang on. These are things that can’t be taught to you by textbook. You have to learn them step by step as the Holy Spirit leads you.
But you can learn them and God will guide you. I promise you. Specialize in encouragement. Let’s not you and I be guilty of the kind of words and deeds that keep people from trusting Christ. “Judge this rather,” said he, “that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”
And so my evaluation always has to start with me. “What am I doing to help?” “What am I doing to encourage?” “What am I doing to help somebody else grow in grace?” “What am I doing to help them commit themselves to Christ?” “What am I doing to help them over the rough spots of temptation and trial?” “Is my life making it any easier for them to be a Christian or because of my own weaknesses and faults and failures projected upon them is life harder for them?” This, dear friend, is the real point of concern.
Let us not, therefore, judge one another anymore but judge this rather. A different point of view, now. Not “How do I like you,” but instead “How are you being helped and encouraged and strengthened by me?” It’ll make all the difference in the world, beloved, if you try that for yourself in your daily life. Paul goes on to amplify this in terms of conduct. He said, I know I’m persuaded by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself. Mosaic Law now has been set aside for Christ fulfilled it all when he died on the cross and rose again.
Nothing unclean of itself. Ceremonial law, I mean to say. The Ten Commandments are still there, aren’t they? But the ceremonial law no longer, today, do we need to bring a bullock or a lamb or a turtledove or whatever as a sacrifice – no longer. Why? Christ, our Passover lamb is sacrificed for us, says the apostle Paul. And so he said, “there is nothing unclean of itself but to him that is esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” If you have a conscience on a matter, you better obey your conscience until God straightens you out if you indeed need to be straightened out. If you have a conscience on a matter, follow what you feel to be your particular duty.
If a person esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Now, he said, “if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably or in love.” You’re not walking in love; you’re not living the life of love for other people if you go around offending other people by what you do because you’re free in the gospel. “Destroy not,” he says, “with thy meat, him for whom Christ died. Let not your good be evil spoken of.” You’re free. Christ has freed us from the law. The law, the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death, says Paul in Romans 8.
You’re free from the ceremonial laws and all the bondage of these do and thou shalt live. Instead of do this and you will be saved, it’s all done. ‘Tis done, the great transaction’s done. I am my Lord’s and He is mine. And so our blessed Savior is saying “Believe. All things are possible to him that believeth.” You can open your heart by faith to the Savior who did it all and you can be gloriously, wonderfully free today. Hallelujah for that.
However, if there are other people around you whose conscience may be bothered about something that you may be doing, he says, “Don’t destroy the person with what you do because you’re free to do it. Don’t destroy him.” Christ died for him. He’s precious to the Savior. Why don’t you have some consideration for him or her? That’s the principle on which you and I need to live. Well, we’ll go on with that the next time we get together.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing.
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