Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.
We are not in the kingdom alone, there are others with us, serving God and pursuing sanctification alongside us. In other words, we do not seek the kingdom of God unaccompanied; our brothers and sisters seek it as well. Judging one another usurps God’s authority. If He has the power to work in your life, teach you, build you up, and guide you toward sanctification, don’t you think He can do the same with your fellow heirs?
Furthermore, Paul said, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff.’ If you know something not to be a sin, but your brother thinks it is, then rather than try and convince him it is not, just refrain from the practice and let God show him that when it’s time. Seriously, what’s the big deal for you to refrain from drinking some wine, if your sister thinks it is a sin? Your drinking could shake up her faith and cause her to stumble. Trust God to mature her and strengthen her. The kingdom isn’t about legalism vs grace; it isn’t about whether you allow drums and guitars in services or do the Lord’s Supper at the beginning of worship or the end. It is about righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. There should be peace and unity in the kingdom. We should be building one another up, not tearing each other down by trying t prove who is the most Christ-like.
Who are the people in the kingdom? What do they look like? Paul said that the fruit or evidence of the Holy Spirit in us is, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). And Jesus described how people in the kingdom think and behave in Matthew 5:2-12
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
I have done studies on the Beatitudes and so I won’t delve into them here, but I encourage you to look at each one, ask the Lord to measure you against them and pursue what you lack. Each of these attitudes is one which glorifies and exemplifies Christ in us and so brings others to know Him and love Him too. Who we are, how we allow the Holy Spirit to work inn us and through us has an impact on the world. We can be a light to the world or the reason the world hates Christians. In the next verses of this chapter Jesus said,
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16).
Everyone in the kingdom should be working. Jesus, the King of kings worked; He performed many great and good works to show people the love of the Father. We too are expected to do those works, not to earn salvation, that is a gift, but because it is a part of who we are as followers of Christ. He gave us His Spirit and He does not sit idly within us. He works. Yes, we could accept Christ and then show up to church, sit on the pew, and go home and listen to worship music and do nothing more and still be saved and still be a child of God, but that is not who we were intended to be. In building one another, building the kingdom, and sharing the Gospel of the kingdom we must step out and be the kingdom. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 says it this way,
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
James 2:14-18 says,
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
I know what some of you might be thinking. “I don’t have the gift of evangelism.” “I don’t know what to say.” “I’ll help in some other way.” I’m not telling you to go out on the street with a sign and a bullhorn. I’m saying that Jesus said your good works bring glory to the Father. You don’t need the gift of evangelism to glorify God. You don’t need eloquence to articulate the Gospel. You don’t need great knowledge to show someone how deeply God loves him. You only need the Holy Spirit. Paul said it like this in 1 Corinthians 4:20
For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.
The kingdom of God entails power, Holy Spirit power. Cherished Believer, you have Him within you (1 Corinthians 3:16) and He is Almighty! Do you get how powerful He is? Ephesians 1:17-23 reminds us.
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Cherished, remember who you are and remember what Jesus said about you in John 14:12-17
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
That is colossal! In the kingdom, we have the Holy Spirit and the world cannot receive Him, just us. Whatever we ask in Jesus’ name will be given! In Jesus’ name means you are doing it as a representative of Jesus, that the Father will be glorified because Jesus only did the Father’s will (John 5:19). Walking in the kingdom, glorifying God is a privilege that comes with great power for good. You may not have memorized an evangelism spiel, but that is okay, the kingdom is not about talk, it is about power. You, Believer have that power, the power which raised Jesus from the dead and gives you the authority to do great works for God’s glory.
What can the Holy Spirit do? Well, nothing is impossible for Him (Matthew 19:26). Some partial lists of what He empowers us to do are found in Romans 12:4-8
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
and 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
These are not the extent of God’s power; the Bible lists many things He can and will do in and through you. I encourage you to search and find those things as you search to know God more and more.
Are you walking in the power of the kingdom of God? Are you seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Not seeking the power, or the gifts, or the blessings, but the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Are you loving your brothers and sisters, building them up and submitting to them? Do your attitudes resemble the Beatitudes? Are you glorifying God by the power of the Holy Spirit in you?
Tomorrow, we will look at who you are in the kingdom.