Main Point: Jesus owns every square inch.
Bear with me because I am a preacher, not a poet. This is from Abraham Kuyper:
I am not sent a pilgrim here,
My heart with earth to fill;
But I am here God’s grace to learn,
And serve God’s sovereign will.
He leads me on through smiles and tears,
Grief follows gladness still;
But let me welcome both alike,
Since both work out his will.
No service in itself is small,
None great, though earth it fill;
But that is small that seeks its own,
And great that seeks God’s will.
Then hold my hand, most gracious Lord,
Guide all my doings still;
And let this be my life’s one aim,
To do, or bear thy will.
There is not an inch of any sphere of life of which Jesus Christ
the Lord does not say, “Mine.” (Abraham Kuyper, quoted in The Devil’s Gauntlet, by Os Guiness)
You’ve heard it from Kuyper. Let’s hear it from the Apostle Paul. Romans 14:5-9
I. Jesus is Lord of every square inch (9)
Verse 9 is startling because it is not at all what we expect to find. Think about it. Here’s our question: Why did Jesus die and rise again? I expect the answer to have something to do with sin. But atonement or justification are not the focus here. Look back at verse 9, “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
- Jesus’ death and resurrection are for lordship
The death and resurrection of Christ are explicitly for the redemption of every aspect of your life. Let’s take the first part of verse 9, “Jesus died, rose, and lived again, that he might be Lord.” So, what is Jesus’ angle? What is Jesus going after? What is his end-game? Jesus is seeking to rule over every detail of your life.
Now, some of us hear “Jesus ruling every detail” and we think about a toddler scratching and clawing to boss others around. Many people think of Jesus like a toddler kicking and screaming until he gets his way. He’s going to be Lord, you’re going to do what he says, or you are going to taste his wrath! If you are little more refined, you may think of Jesus like a despot or a tyrant, “exercising power abusively and oppressively” (M-W, 344). You look at Jesus and say, “I’m doing just fine on my own thank you very much.”
While absolute power is included in the claim of Jesus as Lord there is also the element of covenant redeemer. Jesus is not Geppetto dying and rising to turn you into a puppet on a string. Jesus is a redeemer who gives himself to free you from your slavery to sin. Remember Romans 6 and your slavery to sin and death and disobedience. Before redemption, there was no other option except for sin. Remember Romans 7 and how before redemption you were a slave to the law, you were trying to be good and do good, but everything you did only made it worse. Jesus died and lived again to change that. Jesus died and rose again to set you free from sin. Jesus’ rule is a rule that secures your freedom from sin. Jesus died and lived again in order to redeem every square inch. Jesus died and lived in order to be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
Grab onto this, it is crucial for understanding the rest of the sermon and getting anything good out of it.
- Jesus redeems absolutely everything about you
Saying that Jesus is Lord of the dead and the living is like saying Jesus is Lord from midnight all the way back around through 11:59 pm. Nothing escapes Jesus’ benevolent rule. When you are bought by Jesus Christ there is nothing in your life outside of his care. Everything matters to Jesus. While you are living you matter to Jesus. While you are dying you matter to Jesus. Once these physical bodies die, you still matter to Jesus. Jesus died and lived again for this end, that he might be Lord of all, both of the dead and of the living.
Jesus is powerful, good, and trustworthy. The purity of Jesus’ life, the reality of Jesus’ death, and the power of Jesus over death prove he is absolutely trustworthy in every season. The purity of Jesus’ life, the reality of Jesus’ death, and the power of Jesus over death prove he has the right of ownership over every decision you will make.
Because of Jesus’ lordship, let us not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Let us be renewed according to the lordship of Christ over all the details. We are a people who test all things according to Christ and thereby approve what is good pleasing and acceptable. Living according to the lordship of Christ is living according to the will of God.
This why we sing, “In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus
When I am alone, give me Jesus
When I come to die, give me Jesus”
The Lordship of Christ means that in every detail of life Jesus is there with his transforming and sustaining covenantal love. We may not like what is going on but Jesus is ruling over all that is going on. He died and rose again in order to sustain you in life and in death. For the Christian, Jesus is the covenantal lord of every square inch.
With that in mind, let’s go back to verse 5, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike.”
- There is some leeway on the Jesus way
Remember, in light of the Lordship of Christ we are looking into matters of indifference. Picture two Christians. Both are trusting the righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ for reconciliation to God. Both Christians are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone. Both Christians have a clear and obvious desire to honor Christ with the decisions they make. But when it comes to days they have a disagreement. One Christian says, “If you want to honor Christ who is Lord of every square inch then you need to fast on this day” or “If you want to honor Christ who is Lord of every square inch then you need to worship on Saturday; worship on the Sabbath.” Verse 6, “The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord.” It is an act of worship and gratitude to King Jesus.
The other Christian says, “If you want to honor Christ who is Lord of every square inch then you should judge everyday as equally important.” Notice in verse 5 that esteeming every day doesn’t mean that the days are inconsequential but that each day is equally important when it comes to living for the glory of God. So, who is right? This is really going to bug some of you. They both are right. It is a matter of indifference.
Ok, here is what matters
II. Do everything to the glory of God with gratitude
Our goal is to make disciples who, living with Christ, are grateful and fully convinced they are honoring God. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Romans 1:21 reveals the fundamental and most heinous of sin, “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.” The deciding factor in all our decisions is the glory of God. The necessary attitude is gratitude. The glory of God and gratitude make all the difference in the world. Read out loud Colossians 3:17 with me.
“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
Jesus has redeemed every square inch. Therefore, whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. Do everything, do whatever you do, for the glory of God. And do it with gratitude to God. Jesus has redeemed you and is with you.
Here is where the end of Romans 14:5 pushes us
- You should be convinced that what you are doing honors God
Look back at verse 5, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Be gone with the idea that you can do whatever you want because of grace. Instead, the redeemed mind seeks to honor God with all decisions. It should be clear to you through the word, prayer, and wisdom that what you are doing honors God and is an act of gratitude. Test what you are doing against Scripture, is this the way God’s people act? Am I living as an accurate reflection of the God of the Bible? Work out your decision in prayer. God show me how to honor you and give me the boldness to honor you. Then sit down with a mature brother or sister and run it by him or her. God has given us the word, prayer, and wisdom so that we can be fully convinced in our own minds that we are honoring God with our decisions.
Students, school is about to start. What will it look like for you to honor God and do your work as an act of gratitude to God? The word, prayer, and wisdom will show you the way to live. Adults, you are going to work soon. What will it look like for you to honor God and do your work as an act of gratitude to God? Moms and Dads, you are going to spend hour after hour with your children teaching, laughing, discipling, and disciplining. What does it look it for you to parent for the glory of God and with gratitude? Consider your sexuality, what it means to be male or female. What will it look like for you to live out your sexuality for the glory of God and with gratitude? Our appetites must not rule us. Christ, living with and for him, must rule us.
Under the Lordship of Christ, with Jesus, this one will honor the Lord with singleness and that one will honor the Lord with marriage. All Christians will honor God by turning away from immorality but this one honors God by being single and that one honors God by being married. There is great freedom under the rule of Christ.
So, are you convinced that what you are doing honors God and are you doing it as an act of gratitude?
- Christians seek to honor Christ and give him thanks
Look with me at Romans 14:6, “The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”
So, here is a Christian observing specials days. Why is he doing it? Is he trying to earn his salvation? Is she trying to secure her justification in the eyes of God? No! The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. What about our meat-eater from 14:2? Is he taking the nose of the weaker brother and rubbing it into a big juicy steak? No, he is eating to the glory of God because he is mindful of God and gives thanks to God. “The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God.”
There is joy in the eating and joy in abstaining. They aren’t prudes. They’re not grumbling and complaining about what they cannot do. Look on in verse 6, “the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” Mindful of the presence of Christ, the one eating vegetables eats with gratitude. It is the awareness of Christ in all of life which enables gratitude.
Here is a way to test and see if something is the will of God- Does this thing honor God and can I do it with thanksgiving to Christ? Can you do it fully convinced God is honored by it and can you do it as an act of gratitude to Jesus Christ who rules every square inch?
Parents, consider the discipline of your child. We know refusing to discipline our children does not honor God. We must honor God by teaching, correcting, and disciplining our children. But how do we teach, correct, and discipline with thanksgiving? We saw in the end of Romans 12 that revenge or vengeance is not allowed. So, it is not acceptable to take pleasure in paying our children back for their wrongs. If you delight in spanking your child then you are doing it sinfully. Disciplining your child is like disciplining a church member. Discipline is difficult, but we discipline thanking God that he has given us a means of rescuing those whom we love. Mindful of Christ, who is with us in all of life, we discipline for the glory of God the good of others. We are even given the ability to discipline with gratitude. Thank you, God, for giving a means of correction.
In all things, we seek to live with gratitude for the glory of God. Here’s another way to say it.
- Christians have a new end-game
Listen to 2 Corinthians 5:15, “Jesus died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Before Jesus redeemed you, your only option was to live for yourself. Before Jesus sets your child free, the only option is to live for the glory of self. We should never be surprised by the selfishness of the unbeliever. We should always be shocked by the selfishness of the believer. Christians have a new end-game. Romans 14:8, “none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.”
The reason we can eat for the glory of God and give thanks to Jesus is because through conversion we have a new God and new desires. No longer ruled by our appetites, every decision is made by the word, prayer, and wisdom. We live for Christ and his purposes. The reason we can abstain for the glory of God and give thanks to Jesus is because we are living life under the Lordship of Christ. Jesus is with us leading and sustaining us.
None of us lives to himself. Christian, you are not doing what you do all by yourself. You are not alone. You are not forgotten. You are the Lord’s. Your life, your pain, and your joy matter. Your life, pain, and joy are means of glorifying God and are opportunities to give thanks. None of us lives to himself and
None of us dies to himself. Christian, you are not dying alone. Your life is significant, and your death is significant. Jesus is with you in all things and Jesus is the reason for all things. Christ is the Lord of the living and the dead! This means,
- We are the Lord’s cherished possession
We already read Colossians 3:17, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Right, that’s how we live. But what is the fuel for that type of living? Colossians 3:12- know who you are- you are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.
Look at how Romans 14:8 puts it, “For 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.” We are the Lord’s chosen possession, bought by the blood of Christ. We are made holy. We are beloved. We are chosen, holy, and loved.
Therefore, live to the Lord. God has not redeemed you so you can waste your life on yourself. There are already plenty of people doing that. God has joined you to the resurrected Christ and blessed you with singleness so that you can honor God and give thanks that you are, 1 Corinthians 7:32, free from anxieties and able to please the Lord. God has joined you to the resurrected Christ and blessed you with marriage so that you can honor God and give thanks that you are, Ephesians 5, free to be a living illustration of Christ as husband or the church as wife.
There are an infinite number of ways to honor God and there are an infinite number of things for which we can give thanks to God. With Christ, who is the resurrection and the life, we are able to live all of life for the glory of God. And with Christ, who went through death and possesses eternal life, we are able to even die for God’s glory and with gratitude.
Look again at verse 8 and let’s be thankful Jesus rules over every square inch, “For 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.”
The older I get there are more and more places that I cannot go. I can’t climb like I used to or pull myself up into places like I used to. That means my kids can get themselves into places that I cannot go. I remember my children getting stuck in the top of the old MacDonald’s playground. My days of being able to navigate those little tunnels are numbered. We are weak, but Christ is strong.
There is no place that you can go where Jesus doesn’t rule. There is no place that you can go where Jesus cannot sustain you. “Christ is the one who died—more than that, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:34-39).
Christian, your suffering may be intense, you may feel the crush of the curse, you may be handed over to death every day, but you are not separated from Christ. Christ lives. You are loved. Let’s glorify God and give him thanks. May we labor to make disciples who, living with Christ, are grateful and fully convinced they are honoring God.