Paul is giving his readers encouragement against those who are trying to oppress them. “Let no one pass judgement on you” (verse 16a).
The judgement this group was facing was from the false teachers who were trying to conform them to their own standards. “How could he call himself a believer when he eats THAT!” “Believers don’t celebrate those holidays.” “You have to be completely free of any worldly interactions if you are really a believer.”
These are actual attitudes still today. “If you don’t do it my way you can’t really be a ‘Christian’.” That is not what Jesus said.
Jesus said that HE is the way. No man comes to the Father except through Him. No amount of actions or inactions will get you there. Only faith in Jesus. He set up the foundation for the church. He is the head of the church. Jesus calls it His body and He is the Head. If the teaching lines up with HIS word, then by all means follow it. If not, RUN the other way.
One of the foundational teachings of Jesus is that regulations and rules won’t get you into Heaven. We can’t keep them perfectly, no matter how hard we try. Jesus freed us from the law through His death and resurrection. He gave us freedom.
That doesn’t mean that we should use your freedom to do anything that pleases you. Instead use your freedom to serve others. Serve others because you want to, not because you are required to by some rule. Abstain from things that cause confusion on your brother’s part because you value his salvation more than your right to indulge in some food or drink.
Do all you do out of love. That is an attitude God is thrilled to work with. That is how His body grows. Not through condemnation of one another over things that have no eternal meaning.
Yes, some points are worth standing firm on. Those are the foundational points Jesus made. Love the Lord God with all your heart mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Faith in Jesus as the only begotten Son of God, who took our punishment on Himself and offers us redemption instead of condemnation. That we have an eternal hope in Him when we surrender our lives to Him. Nothing we do, apart from accepting what He already did for us, will get us into Heaven. And that how we live AFTER we surrender our lives to Him needs to line up with the practices of loving God and our neighbor. Not as a requirement for Heaven but as a demonstration of the change He has made in us when we surrender to Him.
Father God, thank You that there isn’t a HUGE list of do’s and don’ts. I would NOT make it! As Paul said, I find myself doing the very things I don’t want to do and not doing the things I want to do. I’m glad to know he was fallible even after his conversion. He still had issues to face, we just didn’t’ hear about them in great detail. Thank You that YOU are the only one I need to worry about judging me. You already judged me righteous when You applied Jesus blood to my life. Help me remember too though to honor You with my life. Not as an attempt to earn my way into Heaven but as a thank You for all You did to bring me back to Yourself.