Pastor Thomas Smith   -  

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.”┬áRomans 14:17, 18

It matters what God and others think of us. How might we be “acceptable to God, and approved of men”? These verses teach us that our concentration should be on keeping our hearts pleasing to God. In our text, the kingdom of God is speaking of His reign in our hearts. It is not measured or distinguished by outward ceremony or ritual, but rather by the inward work of the Spirit of God. By grace, we experience His imputed righteousness, pardon, and forgiveness for our sins. We have found a peace that passes all understanding, and joy unspeakable. This is the fruit of Christ’s kingdom, as He rules and reigns in our hearts. Paul goes on to say, “For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.”

The Christian life is not defined by adhering to a strict code of morals or ordinances. It is not just conforming to a system of rules for appearance or conduct; the unconverted are able to imitate external standards. The most important difference that Christ makes is in the heart. Loving and trusting Him by faith, and embracing His Word as our daily bread, exemplify God’s kingdom in our hearts. It is rejoicing in His grace and provision, obeying Him from the heart, and enjoying the peace and comfort of His presence.

Our text speaks of knowing God’s approval, as well as men’s. God is interested in our outward testimony, but He is initially and primarily concerned about the condition of our hearts. A person can display outward standards and be far from God in his heart. However, if a person is surrendered to Christ’s lordship in his heart, it will definitely influence his conduct and behavior. Not only will God be pleased, but also those men who are spiritually discerning will approve of our lives.

All of us would like to find acceptance with others. We also know that we will never please everyone. All the people were not pleased with Jesus, or with His disciples. We can, however, enjoy fellowship and acceptance from those who love Him and recognize His work and His ways. If we serve Christ in our hearts, seeking always to please Him, we will be “acceptable to God, and approved of men.”