After Paul finishes his major teachings to the church, he closes by encouraging believers not to judge fellow members, not to cause another to sin by wrong living, and to have unity rather than division.
Items (blocks, Lincoln Logs, paper cups, etc.) to build a tall tower, rectangular pieces of paper, colored pencils, a timer
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
A. Pretend your group is the church board and choose a controversial subject to discuss. For five minutes, discuss the topic in a judgmental, stubborn, and self-righteous way. Then spend five minutes discussing the same topic in a unified way—being good listeners, valuing each others’ ideas, and showing respect.
B. Sometimes we don’t realize how bad something sounds when we’re saying it. Choose three members for an impromptu skit. Two participants will be judging the third about a rumor they heard. This person will be able to hear all they say. Afterward, ask the judged person, “Even though you knew this was a skit, how did their judging make you feel?”
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
A. Does it really matter how each person in a church chooses to live? Aren’t our lives our own business—just between God and ourselves?
B. Thought Questions
Read Romans 14:10. Why is judging a risky thing to do?
- As humans we can’t fully know the reasons behind someone’s actions.
- We often show little or no mercy in our judgments.
- We are free to judge others if we feel we can stand blameless before God’s judgment seat.
- Often when we judge others, we are seeing our own shortcomings in them.
- We should be concerned with our own actions since we, too, will be judged.
Read Romans 14:15-23. How does Paul’s counsel here apply to all of life?
- We should be more concerned about offending fellow members than following our desires.
- It’s not an act of love if our personal choices cause someone else to fall into sin.
- We can do whatever we want in private, as long as fellow members don’t find out.
- We need to get our priorities straight and not quibble over minor matters.
- As a church body, we are interdependent, so we can’t always have things our way.
Read Romans 14:4-10. Does this New Testament text prove that Sabbath-keeping isn’t important?
- Paul preached and upheld God’s law, so he wouldn’t do away with the fourth commandment.
- Apparently there was controversy over whether or not to continue observing certain special days.
- God isn’t concerned about when we worship—just whether or not we do worship.
- It’s clear that Paul is saying that the day on which we worship doesn’t matter—to each his own!
- Paul is encouraging the church to give others the right to celebrate certain days if desired.
Read Romans 15:1-3. How do these verses summarize what Paul was trying to teach the church?
- When someone in our church is weak, we need to bear with him or her out of love.
- When we’re part of a church body, we can no longer live to please only ourselves.
- The Christian life is to be a life that looks outward, not inward.
- We need to build each other up, not tear each other down.
- Jesus’ unselfish life of loving and living for others is our example.
Applying the Message of the Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. After several minutes, report back to the larger group with your findings.
Option 1: Create an impromptu skit about a church potluck. Pretend that someone brought a ham casserole. First, act out the wrong way to deal with the situation. Next, act out the right way.
Option 2: Work together with blocks to build a high tower. Each person takes a turn adding a block. Work together, offering ideas and encouragement. When someone causes the tower to tumble, don’t cast blame; instead, let him or her know it’s okay.
Option 3: Make a “Brotherly Love” coupon and give it to a group member to cash in when he or she wishes. Coupons could include offers to mow the lawn, wash the car, deliver homemade cookies, babysit the kids, etc.
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
A. Consider Mary Magdalene. Now think about a sin in your past that you want to keep secret. Imagine yourself surrounded by accusers with stones, ready to kill you. But then your Savior steps in to save you. Does this help you want to accept or judge others?
B. What kind of spiritual example are you setting for your family, friends, and church? Are you involved in something that might cause someone else to stumble spiritually? If so, confess this sin to God and give it up.
Next Week's Scripture Focus:
Genesis 39:6-12; Joshua 3:9-17; 1 Samuel 24:1-6; 1 Kings 12:1-16; Job 1:1-12