For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this – not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.
~ Romans 14:8-13 ~
This is such an amazing passage of Scripture, and it applies to each of us.
For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:8)
God created each of us in His image. He also gave us a free will to decide for ourselves whether or not we want to serve Him.
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:3-5)
God wants each of us to come to Him. When we give our lives to Him, Romans 14:8 is applicable: if we live, we live for Him. If we die, we die for Him. When we give our all to the Lord, it doesn't matter what happens, our lives are for His glory. Think of all the martyrs that died while serving Him. While they lived, they lived for Him. When they died, they died for Him - proclaiming the Word of God and standing strong in their beliefs. God is in control, no matter what. I would much rather be for Him than against Him!
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt?
This verse hits hard for me. Having several siblings, I have a tendency to judge them all the time. I have three younger siblings, and I often compare them to what I was like when I was their age. I have a brother who is only a few years younger than I am, and we often get into arguments and regard one another with contempt.
When you really think about 'regard your brother (or sister) with contempt' it might confuse you a bit. Let me clear things up. When you ask Google or Bing to define 'regard' and 'contempt', here are the answers:
regard: verb - consider or think of (someone or something) in a specified way. Synonyms include the following: consider, look on, view
contempt: noun - (1) the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn. Synonyms include the following: scorn, disdain, disrespect (2) disregard for something that should be taken into account. Synonyms include the following: disrespect, disregard
So, if you rephrase that, it can say something like this:
Or you again, why do you consider your brother (or sister) with disregard, disrespect, scorn, and disdain?
Ouch. That's tricky. If you're an older sibling and have younger siblings (typically, if you're an older sibling, you have younger siblings.), it's hard not to look down on them sometimes. I do it often. It's one of my many faults that I'm asking God to help me correct. This next one is pretty tough too.
For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
Wow. We ALL will stand before God and before the judgment seat. If you haven't asked Jesus to take away your sins and come into your heart, that's pretty scary. Actually, that's really scary. Think of it this way:
The Ruler and Creator of the entire universe (every planet, every star, every galaxy, every human being, every animal) will look straight at you and say something like this, "Are you guilty?"
No one is perfect. (Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.) That means everyone is imperfect... which in turn means that everyone is guilty. Heaven cannot have any sin in it. How then can we get to heaven?
Not by good works, even if you do 100 good works for every bad thing you do. For..
For the wages of sin is death... ~ Romans 6:23a
So, since God is a just God, we all should die. But the second part of that verse says...
... but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23b
God sent His perfect and holy son, Jesus, to die on a cross and take the penalty for our sins. But it is a gift, as noted in the verse above. To consider the gift yours (any kind of gift), you must first receive it.
And that's how we can get to heaven. God sent His son Jesus so that if we accept Him into our hearts, He will forgive us and before that judgment seat, we will no longer be condemned because of Christ's sacrifice. \
Now, back to today's passage.
For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.”
Amen! Need I say more?
So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
Whoa. An account of ourselves. I've done so many bad things in my life, I don't think I could count them on even the stars. I don't remember half of them... because I've asked God to forgive me of my sins, and I have the assurance that He HAS forgiven me. But, still. When we are before God, we cannot say, "Well, Greg made me do it... so it wasn't my fault." or, "Rachel told me to and I didn't want to disobey!" or, "I didn't know it was bad."
To put it simply, we won't be able to play the blame game. Correction - we can TRY to play the blame game, but it won't get us anywhere.
My parents have told me this simple truth (simple to hear and say, not so simple to obey - hey, that rhymes!) ever since I was little.
"You're not responsible for what he/she does to you, but you ARE responsible for how you react."
Most of the time that saying was said to me when I was trying to play the blame game, "Well, he made me do it!" or "He started it!"
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this – not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.
How much easier would it be if we didn't try to judge or tear one another down, but instead determined to help each other and not to put an obstacle in anyone's way. It's hard enough without someone constantly putting stumbling blocks before you! It's like trying to run a race barefoot when the track is made out of Legos (ouch. ouch. ouch.) Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but I hope you get the idea.
I hope this has challenged you today. It challenges me every day of my life. To God be the Glory!