Monday Devotional: September 11, 2023



Bible Reading: Romans 14:1-12 (NRSVUE)

1 Welcome those who are weak in faith but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat, for God has welcomed them. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on slaves of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand. 5 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6 Those who observe the day, observe it for the Lord. Also those who eat, eat for the Lord, since they give thanks to God, while those who abstain, abstain for the Lord and give thanks to God. 7 For we do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12 So then, each one of us will be held accountable.

If only we Christians listened to Paul, “Accept (those) whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” (NIV). If we could achieve that alone — the ability not to pass judgement on others — we could be straying into the realm of the miraculous.

Humans appear to be judgmental by nature, and to some extent this is a strength. We need the ability to judge our own actions. We are called to make discerning, informed choices. The trouble starts when we turn that judgmental eye on others. Paul himself seemingly falls prey to this very fault. Immediately after his advice above, he states, “Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables.” Paul has just judged another person as weak! But he quickly clarifies. We can’t help judging actions as right or wrong, weak or strong, but we can refrain from contempt and from thinking that God loves us better than others.

In fact, our ability to judge our own thoughts is critical to growth in faith. “Let all be fully convinced in their own minds.” Conscience, right living, good choices- all these are cornerstones of lived faith.

But faith does not exist in a vacuum. It operates in the real world, in love of neighbor and acceptance of stranger. Relationships reveal God to us, both in wisdom others share with us and the lessons we learn from our own actions. Thus Paul tells us that we may judge our own actions but not our neighbor’s. For them, we reserve love alone. Each time we gaze on another with love, we learn something of the infinite God.


Dear God, help me to bear up my brothers and sisters and refrain from judging them. Help me to love as you do, with open mind and heart and without restraint or limitation. Amen.

By Catherine Cavanagh, The Upper Room Disciplines 2014, page 304.