Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
As Christians, we are to grow in His grace, which produces the by-products of joy and peace, overflowing with hope. If any of these are absent in ourselves, we should ask why.
For me personally, I knew my actions and my words were not reflecting His glory. Pouring out grace to others could have been much better. I had assumed a role not intended for me, “Judge Judy.” The Lord sweetly led me to sit and soak in Romans 14 and the first thirteen verses of Romans 15. As I read these passages in several translations, the titles given for these passages are an excellent summary.
“The Weak and the Strong”
“A Plea for Unity.”
“Put Other People First.”
“Receive One Another.”
“Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another.”
“Jesus Christ is Judge.”
“Christians must not force their opinions on others.”
“The Example of Christ.”
“Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles.”
Disunity and disagreement do not glorify God: they rob Him of glory. As Christians, we must be focused and unified and not have division and dissension. It appears that the “gray areas” in life tend to put us in the judgment seat. The Bible commands or condemns certain things (St. Augustine called these things “essentials), and as Christians, unity is necessary for standing firm in those convictions! However, when we disagree with each other on what St. Augustine called “nonessentials,” we tend to promote ourselves to the “Judgment Seat.” Again, St. Augustine said it best, “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
When you read Romans Chapter 14, you will see it is clearly written, as Christians, we will have our works judged by God (not our sins-Christ paid for them), and God will not ask us to co-judge with Him. But if we are playing “God,” then we are not spending our time trusting God, and one day we will answer Him about how we have lived, not how our neighbor/co-worker/relative lived.
Prayerfully consider reading Romans 14 and ask the Lord where you have been passing judgment on things that have only temporal meaning and not eternal.
Father God, thank You for being the God of hope and will fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in You. Please forgive me, for sometimes criticism comes quicker to me than compassion. Replace any self-righteousness in my heart with Your Grace to pour out to others. Let my greatest desire always be to please You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.