Romans 14:1-4 ESV
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Matters of Opinion
We were all brought up in different ways. We all have differing opinions of how things ought to be done or how they ought not to be done. Every one of us has certain ways we do things, maybe because of how we were raised, or because it is just what we prefer. And, that is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on what it is, and depending upon whether or not we are trying to force our personal preferences on to other people.
Now, this is not speaking about what God calls sin. The scriptures are clear on what is sin and what is not sin. Those matters do not fall into the category of personal preferences, although some people would certainly like to dispute that matter, I am sure.
However, we can make judgments on what God calls sin and, thus, we should encourage our fellow believers to walk in God’s righteousness and holiness, and we should urge them to forsake what is of the flesh. But, that is not the subject matter here.
For, personal preferences are merely matters of opinion. And, as such, we should not try to force our ways on to other people nor should we be contentious or judgmental with them if they do not do what we do, the way we do it, when we think it ought to be done. Are you with me? Have you been there? Either on the giving or the receiving end of such judgments?
Uniquely Designed by God
God made us all different. He has given us different gifts and unique callings. We will not all minister in exactly the same ways. We will not all function within the body of Christ in all the same ways, either. And, the ways of God are not the ways of man.
So, if God assigns us a part within the body of Christ, it may not be what man would choose for us. It may not fit within the confines of institutional religion, either. And, it may seem odd to some people. Yet, we must be so careful that we don’t put God inside the box of human reasoning.
Now, God is holy, and he is pure, and he is righteous and just, so he will not do anything nor will he have us do anything which goes against his divine character and will, or against the covenant he has with his people, which is the New Covenant he has with believers in Jesus. We need to understand this. For, I know there are a lot of people “out there” who are claiming God tells them to do all sorts of things which are contrary to God’s Word and to his divine character and will. So, I am not meaning any of those.
Yet, as believers in Jesus Christ, we need to be so careful that we don’t put God inside the box of institutional religion and think that God can only work inside that box. We need to read all the scriptures and see the vast number of ways that God used his people throughout all the generations. And, we need to understand that when God assigns the parts of the body of Christ that they may not necessarily fit within the confines of what we think those assignments should be or should look like.
Thus, we need to be so careful that we don’t jump to conclusions or decide that “God doesn’t work that way,” when, in fact, he may work exactly that way. It may just not be the way we are used to, because we might think inside the box of institutional Christianity, rather than think inside the box of God’s ways and methods and will and purposes. So, be very cautious about making judgments about other people’s callings or giftedness or with regard to their personal convictions, for God made us all very unique.
Hurting One Another
When we try to inflict our ways of doing things on to other people, especially on to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are not acting in love. Again, I am not speaking about what God clearly calls sin, but I am talking about matters of personal preference, which are just matters of opinion or culture or upbringing or whatever.
For, if we are not careful, we can do a lot of damage to people’s hearts because we either try to force them into our molds, we reject them because they “don’t fit” inside our molds, or we get angry and spiteful with them because they are not doing what we want, when we want it, the way that we want it.
And, this kind of stuff is happening a lot, and among those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ. This should not be!! We should not be judging one another based on our own ways of doing things. And, we should not get angry and spiteful with those who do not “perform” according to our own ways of doing things. That is just nasty! And, it is hateful! And, yet, many are doing this on a regular basis.
I think a lot of this is caused by upbringing and by culture and by institutional religion, all which have dictated to us and to our minds and hearts that things ought to go a certain way, and that if they don’t, we should throw a temper tantrum until we get our way.
But, that is so selfish! And, it is childish, too. And, yet many adults live like this regularly, and they call themselves followers of Jesus, too.
I see so many Christians fighting amongst themselves over such matters as when Jesus Christ is going to return – pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-tribulation. I see and hear so many of them getting into knock down fights over who is the better candidate to run this country, or what political party is better suited for this nation. And, the list goes on, and on, and on. And, this should not be! These are disputable matters, not matters of sin or salvation.
And, then I see so many who can get angry and spiteful with one another when they don’t get their own way, or when their expectations are not met. And, even family members end up disassociating with other family members, or they cut them out of their wills, because they didn’t perform like was expected. And, this is just wrong! And, it is so hurtful to those who are the objects of the resentment, bitterness and spite.
What Leads to Peace
Instead, we are supposed to be doing what leads to peace, not in the way the world defines peace, but peace as God defines it.
In other words, we never compromise the truth of scripture, or disobey our Lord, or cave to the pressure of doing what is sinful in order to make peace with other humans. We don’t flatter people with our lips, either, by telling them lies so that they will feel good. And, we don’t keep from telling them the truth out of fear of hurting their feelings or that they might not like us in return. We must remain faithful to our Lord in all situations.
Also, we are not going to please everyone. This person may have this expectation of us while another has a different expectation, so who are we going to please? This one? Or, that one? We can’t live to please human beings, for we are not going to please everyone, and we may end up displeasing God in the process. So, we can’t worry about whether other humans approve or disapprove of us, or even what they might say about us, but we just have to be who God has called us to be and leave other human beings in his hands.
Yet, that doesn’t mean we just go around and say, “This is who I am, and so get over it!” No! That is not doing what leads to peace. But, if God has called us to something, and we know this is his calling on our lives, we should not waver in opinion about that just because someone else disapproves.
So, rule #1 is we follow our Lord and His Word and His will for our lives, and we do what He says, even if other humans don’t get us, or even if they reject us, or even if they are hateful, mean and spiteful in return.
Rule #2 is that we love our neighbors as ourselves, and we do no harm to our neighbors. So, as much as it is possible, we do what leads to peace and harmony, as long as that peace does not mean we turn our backs on God in order to be liked by people. God is always first place, but loving God also means we love one another.
So, be kind. Be thoughtful. Think of others above yourselves. But, never bow to human pressure to be less than who God called you to be or to involve yourselves in sin in any way in order to make peace. And, then just leave your reputations in the hands of God, and let him work in the hearts of those who disapprove of you or who reject you because they think you should do something they think you should do, but may not be what God wants of you.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
Monday, November 5, 2018 – Thank You, Jesus, for this reminder to follow you in obedience, but to also love others as we love ourselves. Amen!