Saturday, 14 December 2013
One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. Romans 14:5
Paul turns now from food to days. He has demonstrated that what we eat is of far less importance than many claim, and that those who take the stricter path on dietary matters are actually the “weaker” of the faith, not understanding their freedom in Christ. Now, concerning certain days, he begins with, “One person esteems one day above another.”
What is he talking about? The answer is so clear we may actually miss what is intended. He is speaking of observing a particular day for a particular purpose such as:
1) A Sabbath Day
2) A Day of Worship
3) A special holiday or “feast day”
Some people coming out of Judaism, or who have been influenced by the Jewish concept of a “Sabbath” esteem that day above the other days of the week. It should be noted that the “Sabbath” is Saturday. It is entirely inappropriate to say that the “Christian Sabbath” is Sunday. There is no such thing as a “Christian Sabbath.” The Sabbath is the seventh day, as is outlined in the Old Testament. It was given to Israel under the law and it is not somehow amended or transferred to mean anything other than what was ordained at that time.
Some Christians may esteem Sunday, also known as “The Lord’s Day,” above other days of the week. They honor the Lord on this day because it’s the day He rose from the grave, triumphing over it. This day, though not a “Sabbath,” is considered a special day and may be called a “day of worship.” By doing this, it honors God for His great acts which culminated in the resurrection and which look forward to the eternal state; the “8th Day” if you will.
And of course, there are those who go to church on other days, maybe both Wednesday and Sunday, thus esteeming both days as days of worship. Others meet on Monday, Thursday, or whatever. They have set aside a day, esteeming it above other days. There is nothing wrong with any of this so far. If they are living one or more days to the Lord, how can they be erring? But Paul goes on by saying, “another esteems every day alike.”
Some people treat each day of the week alike. Without setting any particular day above the others, or by exalting all seven days, they are the type who “pray without ceasing.” They “rejoice always.” Likewise they, “in everything give thanks.” They are the type who walk in the Spirit and may be less interested in externals than internals. Whatever.
Seeing this so far, there arises a problem in these observances which Paul wants to head off. Far too often, we get so stuck in the mud of our routine that we suddenly decide that “our way is best.” When we see someone observing a day differently than we do, we become judgmental of their choice. But this is God’s world and He sets the parameters for our Christian conduct.
By bringing into the discussion those who “esteem every day alike,” Paul has demonstrated, completely and clearly that there is no set day (Sabbath, worship, etc) that is mandated within Christianity. There should be no finger pointing at those who observe differently than others. And yet we fail to see the clarity in Paul’s words and we point bony fingers at those who observe differently than we do… a sad state of affairs. Endeavoring to accept what others do, when done to the glory of God, is good and honorable.
Having noted that it is perfectly acceptable to the Lord, according to Paul’s instruction, to set aside any day as special or to esteem every day alike, it needs to be stated that mandating a Sabbath based on the requirements of the Law, is specifically contrary to what has been ordained for the church.
Paul has gone into great detail in the earlier chapters of Romans, and he will continue in this detail throughout his epistles, noting that the Law is not to be reintroduced now that it is fulfilled in Christ. Observing a Sabbath to the Lord, based on the Lord’s finished work, in a voluntarily manner is fine; mandating a Sabbath based on the Law is “another gospel” and is to be condemned. We are not ever to reintroduce what Christ has triumphed over. Such an attitude sets aside the grace of Christ and makes us debtors to the entire law; requirements we can never meet. Such is a self-condemning act.
Life application: Concerning days, use your freedom in Christ to honor Him in the way that suits you best. But don’t allow your freedom to be turned into a legalistic attitude towards others who worship differently. Be at peace in their conduct and may they be at peace with yours.
Glorious Lord Jesus! You triumphed over the law so that I may have freedom to live for You in newness of life. Help me to be honoring of Your work by never reintroducing that which You have already fulfilled on my behalf. I stand on Your work alone. Thank You for the freedom which is truly being free. I will worship in Spirit and in truth as I pursue You. Amen.