I’ve got lots of opinions. You do too, right? I’ll go even one step further by saying your opinions and my opinions are likely not perfectly in sync. Differences of opinion are more numerous than grains of sand in the ocean. Disputable matters in the church are no exception. Freedoms and convictions are not the same in every heart. Unfortunately, these areas of contention can cause conflict in our hearts, relationships, and communities of faith if we let them.
My family and I once got thrown into a situation that caused both harm and confusion. The perception and convictions of another was pressed upon us, and the consequences were anything but peaceful. They were layered in judgment and accusation.
We agonized and prayed over how to respond in a way that would honor God. My family and I talked through flesh-led responses (revenge, defensiveness) versus Spirit-led responses (humility, love, grace, forgiveness) and, honestly, we also wrestled with justifiably inflamed feelings of hurt.
Paul spoke of these types of in-the-church tensions in the letter he penned to the believers in Rome. He explained that the freedoms we have in Christ are to be handled responsibly, in love, and that we are to be careful to not allow our freedoms to cause a person of weaker faith (or different convictions) to stumble.
Romans chapter 14 addresses this issue head-on.
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them” (Romans 14:1-3).
Even when others wound us with accusations and differing expectations, God can and will tenderly teach and heal hearts that are intent to walk in His ways.
Paul’s writings to believers in Rome lead me to consider a few heart directives:
ACCEPT THEM: Gah! Don’t sidestep, stiff-arm, alienate, or reject that person.
DON’T QUARREL: Followers of Christ have different opinions. When a believer has differing opinions and convictions, I am to be concerned with my own convictions of faith, not fuss and quarrel about theirs.
DON’T JUDGE: I should act according to my conscience because I am accountable to Christ. And when another believer has different convictions, I’m not to judge them.
Paul went on to instruct Roman believers in Chapter 14 about treating those with whom we disagree with contempt. He reminds us we will all give account to God and tells us not to “put a stumbling block” in the way of other believers.
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:17-19).
These Scriptures lead me to search my heart:
Am I determined not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of another believer?
Am I making EVERY EFFORT to do what leads to peace?
If the answer to either of these questions is NO, then I’m in violation of God’s Biblical standard and I need to humbly get with Him on the issue.
Truth is truth and the Word is the Word. Following Christ isn’t always easy, but it is always best and always what brings Him the glory He deserves.
The Bible calls believers to unity, love, and peace in Christ – even when we differ in opinions. When all is said and done, it honors God when we make every effort to love well and align our hearts with the teachings of His Word. Join me today?
Dear Lord, I’m sorry for the times I’m more concerned about the conviction of others than I am about my own. Help me to accept other believers without quarreling or judgment and keep me from doing or saying anything that would cause another to stumble in their faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE
What personal convictions or differences are the source of your judgment of other believers?
Read 1 Corinthians 8:9-13. How might this apply to you?