The expected motivation for the work in Romans 14:17 & 18, jolts me:
..for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who is serves Christ in righteousness, peace and joy, is acceptable to God and approved by men.
First, remember that the kingdom of God is within the believer and it's not temporary (as is eating and drinking) but permanent. When you believe Christ as God's only Son and accept His sacrifice as sufficient payment to God for your sin, the Holy Spirit comes to live in you...that's the kingdom of God within you forever. Since this is a permanent and welcome invasion in your life, we should be concerned about lasting things:
- Righteousness - God's standard of rightness & perfection, declared about us by Him.
- Peace - Here it means the absence of confusion. Therefore, consistent and firm conviction that will not confuse others in regards to your motives and decisions. Further, God first declared peace with us (Romans 5:1) so now we are to pursue to end hostility with others.
- Joy - Chara, exceeding gladness that results in thankfulness. We are to rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15).
First, I ask myself, am I serving? Then, I need to access my motives. Am I serving in righteousness, lack of confusion (peace) and joy? Consider these questions:
- Do I pursue truth in all situations? (Rather than assumptions or gossip.)
- Do others clearly and consistently see through my words, actions and attitudes why I serve?
- Do I build others up by my service?
- Do I serve with so much joy that it causes myself and others to be thankful?
Ah, words. There is much power in the spoken or written word. A struggling, insecure 9-year old compassionate golden head who's momma told her she's beautiful, knows without a doubt that she is beautiful despite what the mean girls at school say. I know it all too well myself, I still recall, sitting on mom's bed, caught shaving my arms because I thought the hair on them was ugly and mom saying, "You're such a pretty girl." From that moment on, I knew deep down that I was pretty simply because my mom said it. There's something about a mother's affirmation. I don't even believe the sincerity in the engineer's words when he says I'm beautiful. They feel as words of obligation, not heart-felt conviction...but mom saying I look beautiful in my bridesmaid dress...now I know my worth.
In my own life, the power of these words is affirming as I struggle with my own beauty and value. Is the key to overcoming my insecurity, building others with my own words?
Pursue the things (righteousness, lack of confusion and joy) which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God (others)...Romans 14:19-20.I am determined to affirm others (in truth) in the area of my weaknesses (esp. beauty and value). It may not be their struggle but to me, it takes eyes off self and places it on others.
These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates (own minds) judgements that are true (righteous) and make for peace (lack of confusion in regards to my own motives). Zechariah 8:16Survey your area of service, and if needed, ask God to graciously move you toward righteousness, peace and joy.