Journal Ro 14 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains and let not the one who abstains pass judgement on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls—and he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” Ro 14:1-4
Observation: Is there a “right” and a “wrong?”
Analysis: Difficult. Romans 14 is just flat difficult. I don’t ever remember hearing a sermon or reading a teaching about Romans 14.
The first thing I think about is, “Okay, what do I do about heresy? What do I do about “wolves among the flock? What do I do about “stinking thinking?”
Could the Holy Spirit just be addressing minor stuff like “I am good being a carnivore, you are good being a rabbit?” Is it the “I’ll do me, you do you” but under the banner and authority of the Bible? It sure seems that way.
Is it reducing Scripture to the “most common denominator” (the two or three things everybody can agree upon) and leaving deeper study out of conversations? I came across a brother that insinuated that doctrine was somehow responsible for more splits than heals (my words, not his). This is fairly prevalent among local churches.
I think I get some of it. There are some things that aren’t worth fighting over in the Name of Jesus. But doesn’t that also mean there ARE some things worth fighting over? Note this is applying human logic to the statement and Romans 14 seems to be only speaking about, not subjects, but my attitude to, and as, a brother.
My attitude defines a ton of stuff, like if I am in sin or not, even as a Christian. Paul exhorts the brothers to have the “mind of Jesus”:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant that yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind (or attitude) among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” Phil 2:3-5
“For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.
He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Titus 1:7-9
Therefore, I have to consider, what does this mean to me? Do I turn away from potential conflict? Or do I dive right in and conflict away? At this time in my life, I don’t know of any one principle to espouse here—except for cultivating the gift and skill of discernment.
I remember what Jesus said many times, “Who has ears to hear, let them hear.” I don’t want to be argumentative, only to present the truth—knowing that I only “see in part.” There is much mystery that God has and has not revealed to us (Deut 29:29).
Having wandered away from the initial Scripture today, what then is my response? I am responding this way: Wear my convictions humbly but out loud and concentrate on walking worthy of the Gospel—always seeking to sharpen what I should be convicted about. Journaling is one very good way to figure out what you believe, don’t believe, and perhaps shouldn’t believe. Biblical fellowship is not just cultivating friendships (absolutely needed) but also having a sounding board about “thinking.” If you are looking for a mentor (discipler) in the Faith, don’t look for the fun guy, but the one attempting to walk in holiness.
Prayer: Father, I wandered all over the place today. I think that means I have some issues concerning this particular set of scriptures. I “feel” that my attitude separates me from folks. Maybe, maybe not.
I depend upon you, o Mighty God, to lead me in paths of righteousness—especially how I relate to others. Open doors, how You see fit.
Ricky Two Shoes