“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions… 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… 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. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord… Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God… Each of us will give an account of himself to God.
“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… 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. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit… So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:1,3,5,7-8,10,12-13,15-17,19
There are so many things that divide people. It happened in the early church, and it happens today. Paul knew it, God knows it. Opinions, food and drink choices, celebrations of certain days and events- gifts from God to be enjoyed for His glory, yet ramrods of stubborn self-righteousness into many occasions that result in factions, dissension, a miserable and broken picture of the church to the watching world. Today we have politics, diets, differing opinions on science, and church music, and what is acceptable entertainment, and more.
Paul’s words put hands on our shoulders, look us in the eye, and say, love Jesus first, and most. Live for Him, and these irritations and disagreements and clashes of opinion will melt in the warmth of a higher allegiance. Instead of facing off, or spouting off, cast off your obstinance and align your conscience with the Holy Spirit’s convictions. Remember you will be called to account, before the only true Judge, for every word spoken and determination made. Choose to love instead of condemn, sacrifice instead of assert your rights, and actively, intentionally, wholeheartedly, pursue peace and mutual edification. (Matthew 12:36; Romans 12: 10; 2 Corinthians 5:10)
Where do we get so tangled up in our opinions and preferences that we disregard, or diss, others with differing outlooks? When did we slip into thinking ourselves superior, our viewpoints over negotiables more enlightened, our freedoms gifts to be used for selfish gain and pleasure instead of serving those weaker? What difference would it make if we saw and welcomed others in love as God does? Would we ask Him to expose and transform our self-righteous, selfish ways? (Galatians 5:13)
Father, may I live fully to You, and for others’ sake. Help me in every particular to promote the righteousness, peace, and joy of Your kingdom.