Monday, June 1

What to do when you disagree

Scripture: Proverbs 22-24, Romans 14

Romans 14:13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

Romans 14:15 And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died.

Observation

In Romans 14-15, Paul deals with issues of conscience, matters where good Christians may disagree.  The two examples he uses are diet and days of worship.  Some early Christians were vegetarians (probably because most meat had been sacrificed at an idol temple); others ate anything.  Some early Christians worshipped on one day; others on another (the debate may have been over the Sabbath vs. Sunday worship).  Paul gives two great principles for handling these disagreements.

First, stop judging and condemning each other.  Have your opinion; let your brother have his.  Understand that you are not his judge—that’s the Lord’s responsibility.  If you have a conviction, you should live accordingly—failure to live your conviction is sin.  But you should also allow your brother or sister the same freedom to live their conviction without censure from you.  Disagreement is ok when we do it in love and without condemnation.

Second, always act in love toward others.  If your freedom causes them harm or grief, you’re being selfish and not acting in love.  My pastor used to say, “Don’t let your freedom become another person’s bondage.”  If what I do hurts others, I should stop doing it.  And Paul embeds this profound thought in his argument: “Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died.”  I want to remember that every person—including the one with whom I disagree—is someone for whom Christ died.

Application

The application should be obvious in today’s divided environment.  Some people think we should all wear masks and some don’t.  Some people think Christians should meet together (citing our constitutional rights) and some don’t think that’s safe or wise.  Some are distressed by George Floyd’s death and some are distressed by the looting and violence (and many are distressed by both).  I could go on…

The point is that we need to do these two things that Paul told the Roman Christians to do.  

We need to stop judging and condemning each other because we see things differently.  We can live our convictions honestly and disagree with civility and leave judgment to the one true Judge who sees all and knows all (hint: that’s not you!).

We need to act in love towards everyone, especially those with whom we disagree.  We need to remember that person is someone for whom Christ died!

Prayer: Lord, I need your help.  I readily admit to being judgmental when I should be trying to listen and understand.  Help me remember that each person I meet is someone of infinite value to You—someone for whom Christ died.