The culmination of the previous six principles from Romans come
together in this final principle. Those who are seeking God, understand
that they fall short of the glory of God, understand their personal
relationship with God (Deity), walk by faith, walk according to
the Spirit, and present their bodies a living sacrifice to God must
also exercise liberties that edify (build-up).
Paul exemplifies this principle through traditions which were observed
by some converted to Christ (eating of meat, observing certain days;
Rom. 14:1-6). Paul teaches that we should not judge our brethren
concerning matters of liberty (Rom. 14:7-13). The strong brother
should bear with the scruples of the weak brother (Rom. 15:1) and
not do anything that would cause him to stumble and sin against
his conscience (Rom. 14:19-23). Therefore, we should all seek to
please our neighbor for his good leading to edification; and we
should not seek to please ourselves (Rom. 15:2).
Jesus is our example. He did not do the things which were pleasing
to Himself, but the good things resulting in salvation (Rom. 15:3-4).
Since Jesus died for my neighbor, I should be willing to set aside
my liberties, if necessary, to aid my neighbor in obtaining a heavenly
home. And the motivation for doing good towards others, rather than
myself, is love (Rom. 13:8-10; 14:15).
Some Corinthians also had a problem concerning meat - eating meat
offered to idols (1 Cor. 10:23-11:1). Paul writes concerning the
things within the realm of the lawful saying: "All things are
lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful
for me, but all things do not edify" (1 Cor. 10:23). Here we
see that those things which are lawful and a matter of choice (liberty)
may not always be helpful nor edify. Therefore, in a sense, they
become unlawful in a particular situation. Often times Paul gave
up liberties in order to teach Christians and the lost ( 1 Cor.
9:1-23). Sometimes he would work for a living instead of living
by the gospel, and other times he would accept financial support
from churches (rob other churches) to preach the gospel free of
charge. And yet another time Paul circumcised Timothy so that he
could be an effective evangelist while among the Jews (Acts 16:3).
Now this is Paul's command concerning liberties: "Give no
offence, whether to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of
God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my
own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate
me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Cor. 10:32-11:1).
In closing let me again reiterate that the matters under consideration
here are those which are of choice and liberty - not those which
are matters of doctrine. Paul is not instructing Christians to become
heretics to teach the lost nor to maintain unity. The principle
of unity is that each person must seek to edify and strengthen their
brethren and fellowman in matters of liberty. Therefore, we must
"receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the
glory of God" (Rom. 15:7).
Now take a moment to introspectively review your behavior: Do you
set aside your self-interests to the profit of others? Do you receive
others as Christ has received you? Do you love your brethren and