“None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Romans 14:7-9).
These verses come from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, the longest of Paul’s epistles.
The book is the “most systematic unfolding of the apostle’s thought, expounding the gospel of God’s righteousness that saves all who believe; it reflects a universal outlook, with special implications for Israel’s relation to the church,” said the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
And they offer a message to Christians about what’s most important in life, a Massachusetts-based faith leader told Fox News Digital.
“As Christians, our behavior is to reflect our conviction that the Lord is infinitely more relevant than any other actor or factor we may encounter,” Dr. James Spencer, president of the D. L. Moody Center, told Fox News Digital.
The D. L. Moody Center is an independent nonprofit organization inspired by the life and ministry of Dwight Moody. It is located in Northfield, Massachusetts.
“Our personal judgments may guide our behavior, to the extent that they don’t displace the Lord as the orienting center of our lives,” he said.
The things people discern are “subject to the Lord rather than to the personal judgments of others,” said Spencer.
In the verse, “Paul is not eliminating interpersonal accountability” — rather, he’s “situating all believers under the authority of God rather than establishing an artificial hierarchy based of opinions,” Spencer said.
“Individuals are not to be guided by the personal judgments of others, but by the desire to honor the Lord in all things,” he said.
The verses “concerns matters about which there are no absolute instructions given in scripture,” said Spencer.
Paul, he said, is not concerned about matters of conscience determined by individuals.
“Individuals are not to be guided by the personal judgments of others, but by the desire to honor the Lord in all things.”
“Personal judgments are not precluded nor are they finally determinative for Christian practice, because Christians don’t live to serve their own interests,” noted Spencer.
These verses have a twofold implication for the modern church, Spencer said to Fox News Digital.
“First, we must take care that we do not elevate our personal judgments above the scriptures,” he said.
While it is important not to quarrel over opinions, “we cannot relate every matter to the realm of ‘opinion.'”
“We don’t live and die ‘for Christ’ on our own terms,” said Spencer. “Living for Christ involves absolutes and non-negotiables while leaving room for individual discernment and personal conviction.”
He added that second, Christians should reflect on the these verses for “what it means to live and die for Christ’s advantage rather than for our own.”
“We will need to increasingly reflect our conviction that ‘we are the Lord’s,'” he said.
The passage “provides Christians with a reason for boldness and restraint,” he said.
“We can be bold in proclaiming Christ without fearing the consequences.”
“We can also exercise restraint because we do not live to fix the broken world, but for Christ.”
Further, “we can also exercise restraint because we do not live to fix the broken world, but for Christ,” he added.
“Christians can and should be active in loving their neighbors as part of our Christian vocation; however, fixing the world cannot become the orienting purpose of our lives.”
A person who truly belongs to Christ must “recognize that we are not to fix the broken world, but to live for Christ within a broken world as we look forward to the day when God makes all things new.”