This past summer I read these words of Romans 14:7--9 next to the casket of one of my high school football coaches. This beloved coach had poured himself into his players, living for the excitement of the Texas Friday night lights. In his motivation and encouragement he was doing the work that I believe the apostle Paul was encouraging the Romans to do, to live for one another because Christ lived and lives in us.
I pray that all of us have individuals in our lives that live this encouragement out for us, and so bear witness to a God who has given God's very self so that Christ can be the lord of the living and the dead. Death does not get the final word. The gift of faith and the waters of baptism join us to Christ's life. We do not live to ourselves and we do not die to ourselves, but we live to God, and in so doing we can live for one another.
Life Giving God, you poured yourself out for us on the cross so that we might live in you and live for one another. Strengthen us in faith, that we might serve you and our neighbors proclaiming the good news of your son Jesus Christ, the lord of the dead and the living. Amen.
Romans 14:1-12 (NRSV)
1 Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.
2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables.
3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them.
4 Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds.
6 Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.
7 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.
8 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.
9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
11 For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God."
12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God.