Daily Devotion – September 10, 2020 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Romans 14:1-12
14:1 Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.
14:2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables.
14:3 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.
14:4 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.
14:5 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.
14:6 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.
14:7 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.
14:8 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.
14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
14:10 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.
14:11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
14:12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Verse 7 is a real nugget. Examples before it and after it, and then the statement “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.”

We BELIEVE we actually do live to ourselves a lot of the time. By that I mean we make our decisions often based on how the results will make us feel or set us up for success or reflect upon us. Whether we are loud or quiet, whether we are outward-looking or self-reflective, whether we are rich or poor.  But Paul here is making the case that, all in all, when it is all said and done, we will not have lived only for ourselves. Our lives will have ripple effects going far out beyond us.

Our life decisions can be so much easier to make if we have a greater, overarching purpose in our lives. And it is not for us to judge the overarching purpose of others’ lives and decisions, for each of them stands before his or her lord for what has happened in their lives. So do we.

We do not live to ourselves or die to ourselves (alone). Everyone else is affected.

I conduct funerals from time to time – it is my third career. And I can honestly tell you that there are people whom you would expect would not have more than three people at their funeral, for whom dozens show up. Why? Some little thing he did, some act of kindness she offered, some word of grace at exactly the point it was needed, create a field of peace around even obscure people that lasts beyond their own lives. Ripple effects can move the world. In good times or bad times.

What are the ripples you have been making? And what do they mean to the lord you’ll stand before?

Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Make us aware of our choices and how we live and die to you. Help us keep a sense of proportion for who and whose we are. And help us realize what that does to others around us.   Amen.