“As for the one who is weak in faith welcome him-but not to quarrel over opinions….Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls…Why do you pass judgement on your brother? Or you-why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God, for it is written: “As I live (says the Lord) every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:1, 4, 10-12 and Isaiah 45:23)
In Romans 14 there are at least four sections where Paul is addressing a particular attitude of the Roman Church: Superiority. Where do I draw the line (if there is a line) between tolerance and standing firm?
I am easily confused. Doesn’t there have to be a difference between right and wrong; sin and righteousness; wise and foolish; good doctrine v. bad and misleading doctrine?
Survey says: Yes-there are lines. And No as well. It has to do with my attitude.
Attitude is difficult to control and modulate. A little knowledge and we can go off the deep end. Not enough knowledge and we do not progress into maturity and godliness. Scripture says “Desire (or zeal) without knowledge is not good…” (Prov 19:2). Jerimiah is a bit blunter, speaking of our baseline: “Every man is stupid and without knowledge…” (Jer 10:14a)
So, figuring a guy like me starts with the foundation of stupidity, then what? As I add knowledge (starting with the Fear of God) I have to be aware not to let haughtiness have a foothold. So how can I do that?
As an engaged disciple I start with a plan. Only having a “set jaw” isn’t enough. I must seek what was promised, that is, help from the Holy Spirit. At the same time I must cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this process of sanctification. This is the plan I came up with:
I have to have a reminder to set in my heart and mind so I developed this saying for myself: “Be honest, open, candid with honorable concern, merciful practice, and with fiercest personal transparency.” There is a reason that James writes: “Let not many of you become teachers…” The way it happens in me is that I get uppity, haughty-I get an attitude.
I forget that I was once (and let’s get it out there: still am) weak in faith. I forget how many people were pounding on my noggin to “get my doctrine straight.” So what do I do? I fall into the same practice and do not practice patience with others. If I want to be fierce with someone, let it be the guy in the mirror.
Paul writes to the Corinthian Church: “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.” (I Cor 3:10) My visual is the tap tap tap of a chisel on stone and not the pounding of a nail with a sledge.
“Follow me as I follow Christ.” “Come with me to the mount of God and Worship.” And for the guy in the mirror: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD: my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Ps 19:14)
O God: To walk the path of Grace and Mercy of your Gospel is a challenge every day. Every day I encounter temptation to exert my will upon another. Many times I succumb to that temptation. Even if my will is expressed in godly terms, in scriptural references, with the best of intentions, I can be so far off of Your direction. I can sin. Teach me to be patient: compound patience in my life. Teach me to be merciful: Compound mercy in my life. Teach me to be persuasive: Compound wisdom in my heart and mouth. I want the words of my heart and mouth to be acceptable in Your sight. AMEN.