Romans 14 and 15 teach grace believers to limit our liberty with love.
In Romans 14-15, liberty is the freedom to make lifestyle choices, since we are not under law but under grace, in areas the Bible remains silent. There were believers in Rome who were publically using their liberty in grace to live in a way that was harmful to others. This wasn’t an immoral lifestyle they were living, but it concerned grey areas as well as matters of the Mosaic Law, specifically days and diets mandated by the Law of Moses that were abolished through the death of Jesus.
There were other believers in Jesus who continued to live under the Mosaic Law, following its days and dietary laws, even though they were free in grace. As you can imagine, these issues of law and grace created conflict and division among the grace and law believers.
How did Paul respond?
He appealed to the stronger grace believers to take the lead in pursuing peace with the weaker law-followers. Paul encouraged the grace believers to, in love, publically limit their liberties if their liberties were detrimental to the lives of believers who had been saved by grace but were still living under law. Paul encouraged them to publically forgo their freedom if their freedom caused their weaker law-following brothers to fail in an area that violated their conscience or disrupted unity with them.
So what is our life lessons from Romans 14-15?
Since most of us are not around people following the days and diets of the Mosaic Law, this does not immediately apply to us. However, there are four larger life lessons for us who live under grace.
These lessons are:
Lesson One: Our liberty in grace never trumps love, love for others always trumps personal liberty.
Lesson Two: In love, grace believers should take the lead and be a model in pursuing peace with our weaker law-minded brothers by publically letting go of our liberty if our liberty disrupts unity.
Lesson Three: Those who are free in grace should, in love, publically limit their liberties if their liberties are detrimental to others’ lives by causing them to violate their conscience.
Lesson Four: Those who are free in grace should publically forgo their freedom if their freedom cause failure in someone's life.
So often, as grace believers, we may be tempted to flaunt our freedom in Christ in the face of our law-minded brothers and sisters. But with this attitude, we could damage them greatly.
Also, with this attitude, we will never build the relationships necessary to help them escape the bondage of legalism. The way we help others escape the bondage of legalism is through love, a love that publically limits our freedom in order to help others personally discover theirs.
This week, as we enjoy our freedom in Christ, let’s allow our liberty to be limited by love for others if our liberty damages the lives of others or disrupts unity with them...because love for others always trumps our personal freedom in grace.
Below are some verses from Romans 14-15 that are helpful to us in this matter.
“Accept the one whose faith is weak [law followers], without quarreling over disputable matters.”
“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer [law and grace believes], but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
“For if your brother is grieved by _______________________, you are no longer walking in love. By what you __________, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”
"Let us [grace believers] therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification."
"It is better not to ____________________________ that will cause your brother or sister to fall."
"We who are strong [grace believers] have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak [law-minded believers], and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up."