One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
In the midst of debatable issues that could tear Christians apart, Paul manages to put the focus, straight and true, where it belongs. It’s all about Jesus.
Should we hold certain days as special above others? Should we eat meat, or not? Is it okay to drink wine? Can Christians be either right-wing or left-wing in their politics? Is it okay to dance? Is it okay not to? Can a Christian own a BMW?
There are so many issues of life and godliness that don’t have a definitive answer in the scriptures. Different Christians have different convictions about each and every one, some of them strongly held. What are we to do? Why doesn’t the Lord make these things clear?
It seems that the perspective we hold while engaging with these issues is much more important than the issue itself. “He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord”(verse 6). That last phrase (“to the Lord”) is repeated four more times in the space of three verses. Add in giving thanks “to God” (mentioned two times in verse 6), and the fact that we “belong to the Lord” (verse 8 ), and you’ll see what our perspective is meant to be. Eyes on Jesus. It’s all about him, all about the Father, all about our Sovereign Lord.
So, “be fully convinced” in your own mind about particular issues, but then carry them out with a focus on the Lord himself. Don’t do them proudly. Don’t think you’re earning favour through your actions. Don’t focus on being “right.” Don’t look askance at others who are doing differently. Do them, simply, “to the Lord.”
There’s a sense of devotion and adoration in the phrase. It implies taking the simple activities of life and presenting them as an offering of love to our God. I can’t help but think of my kids, way back when, intently focusing on yet another drawing, choosing each crayon deliberately, tracing out the lines, colouring in the spaces, then presenting it to me again as a gift. What joy – for them in the giving and me in the receiving. I think this should be the atmosphere when we follow our convictions in service to the Lord. Whether we eat or drink or keep one day or another, it’s not to be done out of heavy obligation. Rather, we do what we do to bless him.
We are his. He died and returned to life that we might be his for all eternity. So, both now and forever, live it all “to the Lord.”
Dear Lord, I lay my life before you once again. Sometimes I get tied in knots, stewing over debatable issues, losing sight of what’s most important, namely living for you. Please clear my sight. I choose to live it all “to the Lord.”
Reflect: Take these three words – “to the Lord” – and use them as a rallying cry this day. Pause often and recite them. Reorient yourself, in all that you do, to him.