Devotional: May 30, 2020
(10) Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister?
Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister?
For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
(13) Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another. (19) let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification.
Romans 14: 10, 13, & 19
In this passage, Paul encourages us to not be stumbling-blocks to one another. As I’m sure we have all learned at some point in our lives, stumbling can lead to injury. Some years ago, when I stumbled, it resulted in quite an injury. I was in Idaho, and helping with the building of my parent’s log home. Another worker and I were carrying a log. I was on the back end, and he was on the front end of the log. Together, we lifted the log, and began to move forward. However, I stumbled and it threw off my balance. I dropped my end of the log as I hit the ground, and then it bounced back up. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to lift my head up. The bouncing log hit me in my chin, rather than my face. But the collision between my chin and the log was pretty massive, resulting in a deep, bloody cut. It ended up taking almost 40 stitches to close the wound… Not a fun experience!
Obviously, this is an example of a physical stumbling block. The impact one small action can have such a huge effect. Paul is referring to an even larger stumbling block: us. Here Paul makes use of the vivid experience of stumbling and falling when discussing how we should interact with one another. He likens those who judge others to be stumbling blocks. They don’t help anyone, but only exist to trip others up!
Paul reminds us that we are not to be judgmental towards others. One day, we will all be judged by the only one who really matters, God Himself.
Instead of judging others, being an obstacle to hurdle, and creating conflict, Paul suggests another path, the way of peace. He tells us that we should never tear someone down, but that we build each other up.
This passage refers to when people in the Roman church were judging each other by the food others were eating. There used to be a lot of “rules” around food. Yet when Christ came, he dissolved all those “food rules”. Paul observed their behavior, and saw how it was making everyone look ridiculous.
Paul is encouraging us not to judge others. It is all too easy, though, for us to find ourselves judging others when it comes to non-essentials. He wanted the Roman church to realize that if they couldn’t get along over food, they would struggle even more with other non-essential issues.
When we are judging others, it really doesn’t leave us feeling better. In fact, sometimes the result is quite the opposite. Paul encourages us to lift others up, and to be more accepting of our differences. Paul points out that when we lift others up, it is a blessing to us as well. This is called “mutual edification”: building each other up. I build you up. You build me up. Together, we build up the church!
As we live each day, let us commit ourselves to building and encouraging one another in our faith walk. Let’s leave the judging to God alone…
Holy and loving Lord,
Help us to not be stumbling blocks towards others. May we find better ways to relate to others. Forgive us when we stray from Your Word. Remind us of your son’s accepting and unconditional love. Let us also find it in our hearts to lift up everyone, for that is the path to peace, and building up Your church. We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name.