Wow, it’s Friday already. I’ve been walking the footpaths of Romans 14 and 15 this week, intending to write here, but time got away from me again. My wife, Brenda, is preparing for a speaking engagement next month; she’s been invited to speak on Pure Strength at a women’s retreat, incorporating portions of her testimony into her thoughts. So we’ve been talking about strength at our house lately and the word “weak” stood out a bit more than usual when I came across it in Romans 14.1 several days ago.
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing jugement on disputable matters.
A little further down (vs. 4) I read the words:
Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
I underlined those verses, along with verse 7, the end of 10 through 12, and 15:5-7. They all point toward the same basic truth:
Acceptance is a result of a strong faith.
I’ll not go into detail here; you can study the chapter on your own. But it the truth was emphasized this week that if I am able to accept a brother or sister in Christ and accept them rather than pass judgement, my faith is in good shape. I meet a lot of people in the course of a month. I hear perspectives and see a wide spectrum of practices & customs. The middle of Romans 14 and 15.7 remind me that it is not mine to judge.
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Rom. 15.7
One day this week I wrestled with an objection while I was driving around, running errands, “But I have strong views! I’ve studied and prayed, and I’m confident my conclusions are based on the Word! What do I do about those?” The Lord hasn’t spoken to me audibly in my first fifty years, but He brings well-phrased thoughts to mind now and then. I could almost hear the words when they came. “You may influence the thinking of those you know and work with, but leave the changing to Me.” I was quiet for a long time after that, processing how that works. I’m thankful it won’t call for a huge shift in the way I’ve been doing things, just a better understanding of how God goes about His business.
So come around to this side of the table, you who study, teach, pray, lead and encourage, and take a look. Plus, if you’re standing next to me I can say “we” instead of “I”. 🙂
We study hard. We sort through matters and arrive at intelligent, prayerful conclusions. Some of those are strong enough to be branded convictions. We live consistently. We pray for those around us. We lead people in the direction we believe God wants us to go, encouraging them along the way, and we accept them. Every last one of them – those who have placed their faith in Christ belong to Him and those who haven’t yet need to understand. We pray specifically for those friends, and live consistently, always ready to influence and give an answer. But we never lose sight of the fact that each of us will give an account of himself to God (Rom 14.12). So we can influence, we can teach, we can encourage, but in the end it’s between God and that dear one, we’re not in the loop. I find that free-ing, don’t you?
Paul’s words are a fitting benediction – or prayer for the day as we wrap up our work weeks and look forward to meeting with God’s people on Sunday – and face it – some of them have some really strange ideas, but they need acceptance too. We all do.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Something to think about~