Scripture: Romans 14:17-18 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
Devotion: When it comes to cuisine, people are either daring and bold, or safe and non adventurous. Each stands firm in their belief.. The go-getter sees disdain in the comfort of simplicity while the routine eater feels it absolutely ridiculous to color outside the lines. Yes, I’m guilty. I’ve vacillated in both places. During my youth, I was strict to what I knew and refused anything out of the ordinary. As I’ve matured, I welcome the unknown.
Individual preference is like Yin and Yang, but human nature takes it a step further. We stand boldly for what we know while somehow discrediting another’s point of view. Verse 16 tells us to not let our good be spoken of as evil. If your convictions lead you to not have a glass of wine, those are your convictions. We should never hold another to our standard lest we cause them to stumble and fall. Verse 17 clearly tells us what is acceptable; righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
To be in right standing, absent of strife, and full of satisfaction are the kingdom of God’s choices for us. It is when we decide to release the comforts of pride and self fulfillment that we are able to bring Christ and his kingdom into the atmosphere. Many of us have been taught that correct behavior is to spend our lives creating and following lists of things we think are acceptable to man and to God. Yes, there are things God hates and that brings him displeasure, but creating a list of do’s and don’ts does not render us acceptable by God. It was in our sinful state, God deemed us acceptable enough to sacrifice it all.
Instead, we must live by our own credence and allow the slightest tug of the spirit coupled with guilt to be our measure of change. It is here that the checklist disappears and you simply act out of love led by conviction. Let every man live by his convictions and righteousness, peace, and joy will be your portion.
Reflection: Do you still live by a checklist of do’s and don’ts or are you moved by conviction? As a child were you affirmed when you met the expectations of the checklist and rejected when you didn’t? Abba is not that kind of Father. As an educator, I never correct my students right away unless absolutely necessary due to mental or physical harm to themselves or others. No, I do my best to allow them the space to self-correct. It’s in those moments when the slightest look can cause a student to redirect their own behavior and desire to comply. Those moments are the best because they willfully choose to adhere instead of complying out of obligation and acceptance. They are accepted the minute I meet them and nothing they do, good or bad, can change that. It is in those moments of growth my heart is warmed when their behavior changes out of willingness and love. Abba feels the same about us.
Prayer: Lord help us to throw away the checklist and instead be moved by love. May we never cause another to stumble through our arrogance projecting our convictions upon them. May we be children of grace, understanding and forgiveness that yields righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. May our joy be made full.
Written by Petrina Milan