Good Wednesday morning my friends. Today our school is split in activities with one part off to Sports Day and the other part working on the Talent Show. So we have come to the end of the oral devotions and are returning to this written form.
Much of what the Apostle Paul had to teach in his letter has now been taught. For the most part the rest of the letter shows examples of the practical living of this doctrine dealt with in examples. The greater of these examples is found here in Romans 14. The reason I state this is because if we could learn how to apply this example to every relationship in the Church we would be part of a thing that millions would want to be part of. A place of love, acceptance, tolerance, maturity and growth in the Spirit. Instead we have people staying away in droves, claiming they would rather worship at home. The problem is that without the Body of Christ Christians dry up or fail to mature. So what do we do? We learn from the Word of God and allow the Spirit to change us.
I want to look at this passage in bite-size morsels over the next few days, starting with these few verses:
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 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. vv. 1-4
We need to accept that we are all in different places in our spiritual walk. Time has nothing to do with this maturing process as much as it has to do with experience and an open mind to learn from the Spirit. Some people never grow, staying right where the started, at the cross. Others move on to great revelation, insight, into the Word of God and fellowship in the Spirit. I try to read Pilgrim's progress at least once a year as a reminder of the need to "journey", to grow, to "work out" my salvation every day.
However, being at different stages can cause a lot of problems if we have not yet gained the most important understanding concerning love. Without love there is no tolerance, no forgiveness, no acceptance. The Spirit says "Accept him whose faith is weak". There will always be people of lesser faith than you but keep in mind there will also always be people of greater faith than yours. You need to tolerate both because you are not where they are, yet God finds all three acceptable.
People question what is meant by "disputable matters". These are all those little things that people make into major issues. Some will want to caste me out from the Church after this but such matters today would include women's attire, dancing, drinking of alcohol and so on. It doesn't matter what you think about such things, our instructions are not to allow them to become points of division; and both sides of the argument are guilty of making such things points of division. The Word states that neither side in these disputable matters is permitted to look down on the other. In order for there to be wholeness in the Body we must be governed by love and acceptance which allows for tolerance.
Paul makes a very strong point that we are not permitted to condemn because we are condemning people God has accepted. His words here are strong: "Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls." Those words should echo in our heart - To his own master he stands or falls. Are we of such maturity that we can accept this understanding, that things we have been taught are important are not so important because they are not in the Word of God? Well, if you are struggling with that then this next bit is so much harder:
"And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand."
Now what do you do with that? These people who you thought were wrong are acceptable to God; you are not able to condemn; and even if they are wrong in their lack of maturity God's grace is going to see them through. Come on now, people are not going to lose their salvation over a glass of wine or going to a dance. We are not going to lose our salvation over what we eat or what we wear. If we have any hope of seeing the Church in the same way Jesus sees her then we need to allow the Spirit to change us in these things.
Change us Lord, and start with me.