Saturday in the Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 14:13-23

Loving the Brethren More than Our Preferences

The sixteenth-century Reformer, Martin Luther, once wrote this famous line in his work entitled, The Freedom of the Christian (1520), a classic which every Christian today should read.  The line goes like this: “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.  A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”  These are two seemingly contradictory statements—EXCEPT when they are properly understood within the context of the Christian faith.  Paul himself says as much: “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all” (1 Corinthians 9:19).  And as we read the other day, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another” (Romans 13:8).  All of this expresses the truth that the Christian has been set free from the flesh, the world, the devil, the law, death itself, and all those things that previously bound him, by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is now his only Lord and Master and worthy of all his service and devotion.  BUT in that we have been set free from our former slave-drivers, we are now to voluntarily return to our neighbors as “free-servants,” so to speak; that is, people who serve others not out of fear or necessity but out of love and a desire to see them come to saving faith in Christ Jesus.  By freely serving others, we serve our only Lord and Master.

And so in the family of God, though I am free to, say, play cards, I will not do so in the presence of my brother who finds it objectionable.  But it is by my own choice which I freely make out of love for him that I refuse to do so; I am not compelled by him.  On the other hand, Luther would say, and I agree, that if my brother says to me, “Thou shalt NOT play Canasta,” then I shall play Canasta right in front of his face to show him that I will not have my liberty in Christ Jesus annulled by his scruples (Galatians 2:1-5).  My paternal grandmother (born 1904) once said that her mother would turn over in her grave if she ever donned a pair of pants.  Thus, to have worn pants would have been sin for her as she could not have done so with a clear conscience and from sincere faith in Christ.  Needless to say, women today have no such problem and do not sin thereby.  But please bear in mind, we are not to allow our freedom to become an opportunity for the flesh (Galatians 5:13).  A woman (or man) who dresses as scantily as local law allows is sinning; and, if such a one tells you that their conscience is clear in this matter, then their conscience has not been formed by Scripture which counsels modesty (1 Timothy 2:9-10).  So you are free—free to serve others and free to enjoy life’s pleasures, but not at the expense of others, and certainly not where Scripture says otherwise.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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