The Personal Freedom of Minding Your Own Business

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A sermon idea based on Romans 14:1-12.

There is great personal freedom when we stop playing God. Mature spirituality is realizing we don’t have to exclude, control, or judge people. Instead, we can begin to include people while respecting their freedom, too.

Romans 14:1-12 NRSV

[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 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.

[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 in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

[7] 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 of us will be accountable to God.

I want to share three truths with you today that will forever simplify your life. You’ll live less angry and less frustrated. You’ll be more kind and loving. You’ll be sweeter to be around instead of pushing people away.

1. You don’t have to exclude people.

It’s not on you. You don’t have to keep categorizing people according to who is in and who is out.

In our modern, western culture, we’re addicted to binary thinking – in-or-out, black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking – and because of this, we’re a bit obsessed with categorizing a.) people, b.) people’s beliefs, and c.) people’s behaviors.

Instead, you can find more people to include in your life and in your church family, like Jesus did, and like God does every single moment.

2. You don’t have to control people.

Instead, you can let people make up their own minds about things.

To put it more poignantly, you can trust the Spirit of God to lead other people in the same way he leads you, and you can believe other people might actually hear him more clearly than you.

Three caveats:

  1. When someone is in trouble and shows a pattern of being unhealthy and unholy, it’s totally okay to care and to approach them in a spirit of love and humility, but never to simply correct in a spirit of haughtiness.
  2. You DO get to influence the people God has placed in your sphere of influence with wisdom and guidance, especially your kids (but even then, you can’t control them).
  3. You do get to set proper boundaries when it comes to people who harm you or bring toxicity into your life. This isn’t control. It’s loving at a safer distance.

3. You don’t have to judge people.

Besides, your assessment skills are extremely limited by your own limitations:

  • You’re a sinner, too.
  • You don’t know anyone’s full, complete story.
  • You can’t see from a heavenly perspective.

Your worth and value are never wrapped up in what you do or do not do, what rules you keep or break, or which group of people you decide to hang out with.

And here is why you don’t have to exclude, control, or judge people, and why you can determine your own values and boundaries…

We are all accountable before God.

And that means that you, too, can live in the fresh freedom of grace as you come to model your life after the example and teachings of Jesus.

Just as you should stop assessing the worth and value of other people based on their behaviors, you can stop assessing your own value and worth on the basis of these externals. Your value and worth flow from being an image bearer of God.

While we get to strive together toward holiness, recognizing the value of authentic community, we will each answer for our own decisions about moral and spiritual issues.

Thankfully, we’re all answering under the governance of the grace of God revealed in Christ Jesus.


Photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash.

 

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