NIV - 19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
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Great question, Gayle! Yes, it is true that Christians should not judge or criticize other believers and shouldn't do things to “make them stumble” (Romans 14:21, ESV). ~https://www.gracesummit.org/Messages/20230402 By causing your brother to eat and thus defiling his conscience, you could be destroying the one for whom Christ died. (Romans 14:15). Romans 14 "tells us we shouldn't judge our brother if he doesn't feel the liberty to do what we do." ~epm.org Why not? "Since Jesus is Lord and we all will give an account to Him, we must not judge other believers on non-essential matters". See Romans 14:5-12 ~bible.org Clearly, the Bible says in Romans 14:3 "Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him."
Verse 1 of Romans 14 indicates that the context here is over 'doubtful disputations' regarding one's faith. Some are weaker in faith than others. For instance, if a believer feels that it is better not to eat meat (being weaker in faith), then it would be best to not invite them over for a t-bone dinner. Maybe be a vegan that night for their sake. In contrast to this, we ARE supposed to 'rebuke' fellow BELIEVERS for acts and lifestyles that are not becoming of ambassadors for Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:20). This would be anything that does not edify the church and what essentially brings dishonor to God. (Remember that Paul is always writing directly to believers, but sometimes writes about non-believers...) 1 Timothy 5:20 "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear." 2 Timothy 4:2 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine." Titus 1:13 "This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;" Titus 2:15 "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee." Paul reminds us in the verses below to first look at ourselves before we approach another believer. It should always be done in 'meekness' and for the purpose of aiding the believer. The idea of 'tough love' is fitting. Our desire to approach them should be out of our love for them as a fellow believer. I think this is the defining of this type of 'judging'. Judging of 'unworthiness' however is not our place. We are ALL unworthy in God's eyes until we become a believer. Once a believer, we are then seen by God as the righteousness of Him in Christ (2 Cor 5:21). We as Christ's ambassadors are then to live and act in the worthiness that is of this calling. Remember that WE now represent Him in the flesh...we are His 'body' (Col 1:24). Gal 6:1-5 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden." If a believer refuses to change their ways then we are to let them go and 'destroy their own flesh' in order to 'save the spirit': 1 Cor 5:5 "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." What we are NOT to do is judge UNBELIEVERS. God will do that: 1 Cor 5:11-13 "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person."
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