URC Daily Devotion 12 December 2023

Tuesday, 12 December 2023

 

Romans 14:1-12

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions.  Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables.  Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them.  Who are you to pass judgement on servants 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. 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.  Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God. We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.  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.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister?  Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement 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 of us will be accountable to God.

Reflection

In yesterday’s devotion it was suggested that the judgements we make about others ought to be provisional. Our judgements ought to be provisional to leave room for God’s purpose, which is not to condemn but to save. Today we will explore the difference between God’s judgement and ours. If God alone is believed to judge justly, we might say that God’s judgement is absolute. By absolute, we mean complete and perfect. To use an analogy, when God judges he has a 360-degree perspective of that which is being judged. Everything—every mitigating circumstance—is taken account of. 

By contrast, human judgement is limited by one’s particular perspective, standpoint, and experience. Human judgement is relative. This explains why all efforts are made in judicial processes to ensure that a judge or magistrates and a jury are as impartial as they can be when coming to their judgement. We expect them to judge without fear or favour. In most cases, this is what they do. But not always: there are occasional miscarriages of justice. Some judgements turn out to be unjust when the evidence or case is re-examined, or when new evidence comes to light. 

If God’s judgement is absolute and our judgement is relative, then this ought to come as a great relief. That is, we ought to be relieved that our judgments are not expected to have godlike perfection. Rather, we can recognise them for what they are: fallible, provisional, and human judgments. Theists, at their best, let God be God and let humans be human. Something like this belief is behind the Apostle Paul’s question, “Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister?” and his reminder, “each of us will be accountable to God.” (Rom. 14:10, 12). 

It is often only in hindsight that we recognise our judgments as sometimes good, and sometimes foolish. Let this recognition encourage us to seek God’s wisdom to be humble, understanding, and fair in our judgments.

Prayer

Almighty God, 
we are thankful that you are our Creator,
and we are your human creatures.
We seek your wisdom today to be: 
humble in our decisions,
understanding in our assessments,
and fair in our judgements,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

 

 

 

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Julian Templeton, Training and Development Officer, Thames North Synod

 

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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