What is the purpose of our lives? Paul challenges believers in Rome to consider what they are living for and that challenge needs considering today. When people are self-centred, only thinking of what they want to do and accomplish, the outcome is disharmony. This must not be so among the followers of Christ; this is Paul’s message to the believers in Rome.

Paul states, “let us … decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother (or sister)” (14:13). One of the ways this was happening was the kind of food that was eaten when they came together. “If your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love” (verse 15). “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother (or sister) to stumble” (verse 22).

Chapter 15 starts with the advice, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neighbour for his good, to build him (or her) up. For Christ did not please himself …” These are all examples that “none of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (14:7,8). This is the purpose of our lives.

Note Paul’s reference to death as well as to living. We feel sadness at the recent deaths, but for those in Christ we can be clear that the deceased has “died in the Lord”, possibly to all human appearances being faithful to the end. Those who are young need to be ever conscious of the uncertainties of life. This is particularly so at the moment as there are daily examples of young and old dying from the virus. Therefore, may none of us live for ourselves. May we all live and consider each other and speak an appropriate word to unbelievers as opportunities arise. Above all may we “live for the Lord”.