Thursday, December 05, 2013


TODAY'S SPECIAL: Romans 15:1-13

TO CHEW ON: "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbour, for his good, leading to edification." Romans 15:1-2

Scruples is a word I heard my mom use from time to time. She had scruples about celebrating Halloween and wearing makeup. As a youngster I didn't like that word. It was all about things I wasn't allowed to do by reason of the fact that they violated someone else's conscience.

Here Paul is pleading with Christians in Rome to "bear with the scruples of the weak" because there were serious differences of conscience among church members. He talks about these earlier in Romans, naming specifics like what people ate and what days they celebrated (Romans 14:1-13).

At the root of these differences was the fact some of the Roman Christians were Gentiles. Their consciences had been trained by religious instruction that was different from Christ-followers brought up in Judaism. And so Paul pleads with them to all get along, adjusting themselves to each other wherever possible.

Why? Because Jesus came for everyone, the Jews (vs.8) and the Gentiles too. Paul goes to great pains to show this — quoting from four Old Testament scriptures to prove it:
verse 9: 2 Samuel 22:50 and Psalm 18:49
verse 10: Deuteronomy 32:43
verse 11: Psalm 117:1
verse 12 - Isaiah 11:1,1

I say, Praise God — for I am a Gentile.

So, does this Scripture have any application for us today, seeing our churches are mostly made up of Gentiles? I think it does, not in a Gentile versus Jew way but in the way people brought up in a Christian culture may need to consider the consciences and scruples of those brought up in other world religions or without any religious instruction at all. For as populations of our countries have come to include people from many nations and religious backgrounds, so have our churches.

This variety of backgrounds gives us all a chance to exercise flexibility and tolerance of each other in things that aren't commanded or forbidden in the Bible. And we should do it, not in the grudging way I honoured the scruples of my mother, but with the generosity, reasonableness, and love that Paul communicates in the gentle tone of his letter.

PRAYER: Dear God, please give me wisdom to sort out what scruples of mine are matters of real importance. Help me not to erect barriers between myself and others out of things that are non-essentials. Amen.

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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