Summary: If we want to get along we must lose our arrogant attitudes and live for the Lord alone.

Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable

Romans 14:1-8

Rev. Brian Bill


I thought you might want to know why I didn’t preach the last two weeks. I’ve been busy putting hot-air hand dryers in the rest rooms. After installing them I decided to remove them because when I went into the men’s room this week I found a scribbled sign that read, “For a sample of Pastor Brian’s sermons, push the button.” I think I’ll take another week off…

I wonder if the Apostle Paul ever felt like people thought he was just a bunch a hot air, especially when he had to correct a church on their beliefs and behavior. If you have your Bibles with you, please turn to Romans 14.

One of the ancient images of the Church is that of a ship travelling on the stormy seas of life and time. Listen to how Max Lucado describes Christians in his book, “In the Grip of Grace” (pages 160-162).

Though different, we are the same. Each can tell of a personal encounter with the captain, for each has received a personal call. We each followed him across the gangplank of His grace onto the same boat. There is one captain and one destination. And we will make it, for the ship is safe under the navigating care of the captain, our Lord. For that there is no concern.

But there IS concern about the disharmony of the crew. As we wander the decks we find others wearing uniforms we’ve never seen. The variety of dress is not nearly so disturbing as the plethora of opinions. There is a group, for example, who clusters every morning for serious study. They promote rigid discipline and somber expressions. It’s no coincidence that they tend to congregate around the stern. There is another group deeply devoted to prayer. Not only do they believe in prayer, they believe in prayer by kneeling. For that reason you can find them guessed it...the bow. And then there are a few who staunchly argue that only real wine can be used at communion. They’re on the port side. How we cluster.

Still another group is in the engine room. They spend hours examining the nuts and bolts of the ship. They’ve been known to go below deck and not come up for days. They are criticized by those who linger on the top deck, feeling the wind in their hair and the sun on their face. “It’s not what you learn,” those on the topside argue. “It’s what you feel that matters.” Oh, how we cluster.

All agree on the importance of the weekly meeting where the captain is thanked and his words are read. But some want it loud, others quiet. Some want ritual, others spontaneity. Some want a meeting for those who are overboard. Others want to reach those who are overboard, but without going overboard and neglecting those on board. The result is a rocky ship. Even fighting. Sailors refusing to speak to each other; not even acknowledging that others are on the ship. And, most tragically, some adrift at sea have chosen not to board the boat because of the quarreling of the sailors.

That reminds me of an issue of National Geographic that included a photograph of the fossil remains of two saber-tooth tigers locked in combat with this caption: “One had bitten deep into the leg bone of the other, a thrust that trapped both in a common fate.” The cause of the death of the two cats is as clear as the reason for their extinction. They could not survive because they were too busy fighting each other. I wonder if that picture fits PBC today. As the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 5:15: “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

We hear Psalm 133:1 quoted: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” and we wonder why we so seldom experience this kind of good and pleasant unity. Could the problem be me? Could it be you? Could it be us? The answer is yes, it’s me. Yes, it’s you. And yes, it’s us. As we go through this passage, please ponder what it is that the Lord has for you personally. That’s what I’ll be doing.

We’re continuing in our in-depth study of the Book of Romans. We’ve finished the doctrinal chapters and beginning in chapter 12, we’ve picked up those passages that deal with our duty as believers. Over the past several years we’ve moved from justification to sanctification to glorification to application. If you’d like to review what we’ve learned in Romans, check out our website at

As Paul often did when he wrote letters to churches, he addressed issues that were threatening to fracture the flock. These particular believers were divided over special diets and special days. The big problem back then was whether it was OK for a Christian to eat meat that might have been offered to an idol before it was sent to Bob the Butcher. This is addressed in great detail in 1 Corinthians 8 and 1 Corinthians 10. I encourage you to read these chapters on your own. Paul basically is saying that food is neutral and that it’s ok to eat meat that has been on an altar to an idol. We see this in 1 Corinthians 8:8: “But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.”

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